Wild about Weeds, Part 2

(Today’s recipe: Wild Fennel)
Fake wild fennel
I can't believe I haven't managed to post this since I wrote it in March, same time as the first one. Sorry!!! And thank you Peter and Ute for reminding to pull out my finger and get on with posting!!

This weed may look like fennel, but it ain’t fennel, it’s (what I call) Fake Fennel. It’s the Chinese version of a Gucchi Bag which you buy for €5 at the market when the original costs €5000. It isn’t going to kill you if you eat it, but it just won’t taste like fennel at all. That’s the plant I’m talking about, not the handbag. Eat that and you’ll surely die!

Wild fennel
Now this is Fennel Fennel. The €5000 Fennel of Fennel. All you have to do is run a bit of frond (posh word for leaf) between your fingers and you’ll smell the aniseed smell that characterises Fennel. I am not a lover of Aniseed Liqueur, but I have developed a liking for fennel for sure.

Cultivated Fennel produces a bulb that you can slice and either cook and eat warm or slice and put in salads. Uncooked, fennel has a much stronger aniseed flavour than when it’s cooked. So go easy on it in salads if you’re first timers. Roasted in the oven is one of my favourite ways to eat it. Drizzle it with olive oil (whole or halved) and roast in the oven for about 45minutes or till done. Deelicious.

Wild Fennel Fronds can be added (sparingly) to salads and give great flavour to fish as well. Shove a few fronds inside the tummy along with salt and pepper and grill over hot coals. Superb.

Once the plant has flowered, I collect and dry the seeds. In the above photo, you can see the stalks of the flowers from the previous season. Fennel seeds are used in the stuffing for Pork Bruschetta (?), probably one of the most delicious dishes on the planet earth. Italian sausages will also mostly have fennel seeds in them. So if you’re making a dish with Italian sausages, add a few extra fennel seeds for an extra special taste.

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