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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Seasonal Vegetable Profile: Fennel

In history: Though not scientifically proven, ancient Roman women may have used fennel as a diet food with the belief that it was an appetite suppressant. In the Middle Ages the seeds were used as a popular method to curb appetites during Lent. Fennel is believed to have been introduced to California over 200 years ago by the Spanish.

Health: One cup of raw, sliced fennel supplies almost 20% of the Daily Value for Vitamin C and over 10% of fiber needs for only 25 calories.

In the garden: While mature fennel can withstand light frosts, this plant thrives in a temperate or sub-tropical climate where it can enjoy a sunny, warm position in moisture-retentive soil. Two forms of fennel are commonly grown: one for the seed and young leaves used as herbs, and the other for its flavorful base which is eaten as a vegetable.

Did you know? The chemical that gives fennel its distinctive aroma is called anethole. It is one of a group of phenolic compounds that is thirteen times sweeter than table sugar, and is the same chemical that flavors anise seeds and star anise.

Enjoy it: Alice Waters, Chef, Author and Proprietor of ground-breaking Chez Panisee Restaurant in Berkeley, California, has allowed us to publish her recipe for 'Shaved Fennel, Artichoke and Parmesan Salad' on our web site.

McGee, Harold. On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen. Scribner: New York, 2004.
Health content provided by Liz Applegate, Director of Sports Nutrition, UC Davis,

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