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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.

Sources:
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, www.lizapplegate.com
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