Is fennel a vegetable or an herb?


What is fennel? A vegetable or an herb?

What is fennel? Popular in Italian and French cuisine, fennel is native to the Mediterranean. It’s both a vegetable and an herb. The herb variety is known as common fennel. It’s bulbless and grown mainly for its seeds. The variety you’ll find at the market is the vegetable known as Florence fennel or finocchio. The entire plant is edible — the stalks can be used to flavor soups; the crisp textured bulb can be eaten raw and added to salads or sautéed or roasted; and the fronds make a flavorful garnish. Often mislabeled sweet anise, fennel, especially when raw, tastes a little bit like licorice. When it’s cooked, the texture becomes tender and the flavor mellows. Fennel is available year-round, but it’s in season from late fall through early spring. Look for bulbs with no sign of browning and bright healthy fronds. Wrapped in plastic and stored in the refrigerator, fennel will stay fresh for up to one week.

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