How Do You Eat THAT Vegetable? Fennel.

Vegetable Series: When we changed our eating two (now three) years ago, I resolved to be afraid of no vegetable. Not knowing how to cut it or cook it was NOT going to keep it out of my cart. I’ve been slowly working through a series of posts on all the different vegetables we have tried and what we do to the poor things. May you, too, vow to try any and all vegetables in your supermarket! Go get ’em, tiger.

fennel salad and bulbWho eats fennel?  Ok.  Maybe you do.  But I didn’t.  It’s still not my favorite, but how do you know ’til you try?  Can I tell you what I love about fennel?  Bon vivant–I feel like a bon vivant when I’m chopping that thing.  Like I should be cooking from Epicurean or something.  Dim the lights.  Set the music.  Pour the red.  And chop fennel.  To serve to four kids.

Fennel tastes like black licorice.  I’ve fed caterpillars a lot of fennel in my lifetime, so I can’t say why I think of it as a gourmet item.  Butterfly caterpillars love it.  We tolerate it because we know it’s good for us.  (How do caterpillars know such things?)  I’ve used fennel in soups, but I’ve observed we like it and eat it best in a salad mixed with some fruit (like caterpillars—not fruit “like caterpillars,” but we like fruit like caterpillars do).  Something about that licorice flavor that gets supported by fresh strawberries or oranges.

So I tell you, don’t be intimidated by a bulb.  Go get one to hack on today.  I buy the whole bulb of fennel with its little, fern-like leaves.  It shouldn’t have brown spots or soggy looking spots on it.  Give it a good rinse before use.  Then, chop off the top right where the stems and leaves start.  Save them.  Next, chop off the bottom.  Toss it.  You’ll be left with a bulb and some stems with soft leaves on them.  I just chop the bulb like I would an onion and use.  The stems and leaves are all edible.  So I use the leaves and some of the stem, disposing of any that look too big and tough.

Apparently people who have allergies to carrots and celery (or mugwort–What?  Anyone?  Anyone?  What’s mugwort?) may have reactions to fennel.  I don’t think my salad will bring about any of the reported effects, but fennel oil is reported to help painful menstruation, decrease hirsutism (unwanted hair growth) in women, increase libido, stop colic in babies, and decrease bloating and constipation.  Are those doTerra and Young Living “snake oils” onto something?

Fennel Fruit Salad

  • 1 bulb of fennel diced like an onion (get a fennel bulb with the leaves on)
  • 1/4  cup of the fennel leaves finely chopped, it’s okay to get some small stems in there
  • 1 cup of diced (or chopped) strawberries, stems discarded
  • 1 cup of blueberries
  • 1 cup of peeled cucumber, chopped (leave the peel on if it suits you better)
  • 1/2 cup of red onion, diced
  • 1 cup of fresh spinach, chopped up
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar or red wine vinegar
  • Salt


  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar and oil and about 1/4 teaspoonful salt.  Mix well.  Set aside.
  2. In a large serving bowl, mix together all the other ingredients.
  3. Pour the dressing over and mix well to coat.
  4. Finish the salad off with a sprinkle of salt over the top to greet the taste buds.
  5. Options:  You could also add in a tablespoon of poppy seeds or 1/4 cup of chopped walnuts or almonds to give it a nutty twist.  If you like a little more dressing, then double the recipe.  If you like the dressing a little sweeter, add not quite a tablespoonful of your favorite sweetener.

Family “gustar” report:  The kiddos blew me away.  Everybody ate their salad.  Epicurean.  So this salad gets a 5/5 rating!  I know.  We have six in the family now with the baby.  Babies don’t eat salad.  Do they?  She ate the blueberries.  One other one picked out the red onions.  Will your kids or hubby like this?  I don’t know.  Your call.


My kids are slowly learning to expand their palates.  If I had given up in the first month.  The first three months.  Even the first two years, I would have lost the battle.  Call me Boadicea.  I’m tired of marketers and government guidelines raping my children, taking the health that is rightfully theirs.  I’ve had enough.  No, kids.  Your friends don’t eat this way.  Period.  We do.  We’re brave.  We’re fearless.  We’re gourmands.  Or maybe we’re just plain folks who eat fennel in a salad.  It’s just food.  Have another bite.

Have a good one!  Eat some fennel.  And artichokes.  And rutabagas.  And jicamaAnd parsnips.  And kohlrabiOr some vegetable!  Got a vegetable you’re proud of chopping this week?  Care to share?


14 thoughts on “How Do You Eat THAT Vegetable? Fennel.

  1. Wiese

    Got kohlrabi in my CSA basket this week. I just chop it up eat it raw. I like it that way so much that I haven’t tried it out any other way.

  2. Elisa | blissful E

    I had no idea! I don’t think I will eat this anytime soon since I don’t like the taste of liquorice, but I do appreciate you telling me about this overlooked vegetable.

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      Haha! If you don’t like licorice, you probably don’t like anise? Fennel is also reported to taste like anise. At least when you walk in the produce aisle, you can spot a fennel bulb and maybe someday when you meet somebody who loves the flavor of licorice, you can make them a “Licorice salad” and they’ll love you! 🙂 Good to hear from you.


  3. mommytrainingwheels

    I LOVE fennel. As much as I hate black licorice or star anise, I love fennel. Don’t know why. I’ve never thought putting it in a fruit salad though, I’ll have to try that.

    Usually, I eat it with salmon. I mix the leaves with garlic and lemon juice, pour it over the salmon and shoot it in the oven. The bulb, I, chop into slices, parboil, then sauté with other veggies and some soy sauce to accompany the salmon. Usually, I’ll reserve the water it was parboiled in and use it to cook some rice or pasta. I’ve also recently grated it and put it in a coleslaw (along with red and green cabbage, grated broccoli feet and granny smith apple juliennes) Yum!

  4. andthreetogo

    I can’t recall ever eating fennel, let alone buying it to try it. Now I need to see if they have it over here! Saving this recipe to try for sure. Thanks, Terri! I love these recipe posts!

  5. Jo tB

    Hi Terri,
    I have been following your lead and experiment with unusual vegetables. Sometime ago I cam across this recipe with fennel, and loved it very much. Since then I have been buying more fennel bulbs, adding it to green smoothies, soup, and other salad recipes.

    Orange and Fennel Salad
    1 large fennel bulb, trimmed and thinly sliced
    2 medium oranges, peeled
    1 tablespoon olive oil
    1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
    Salt and pepper
    2 tablespoons sweetened dried cranberries

    Orange Vinaigrette
    100mls olive oil
    80mls (1/3 cup) fresh orange juice
    1 teaspoon wholegrain mustard
    Salt & ground black pepper

    Place the sliced fennel in a salad bowl. Slice oranges to divide flesh sections and add to bowl. Drizzle with olive oil, red wine vinegar, and salt and pepper. Toss, top with sweetened cranberries and serve. (I didn’t have any so I just left it out).

    PS: I was given an overripe Dragon Fruit at the supermarket. I had never heard of it, so googled what I could do with it, and ended up adding it to my coconut cream and blueberry smoothie. I found another one on the market today, so will give it another go. It is apparently a cactus fruit.


    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      Hi Jo! So good to hear from you! I just printed the recipe to try! Thank you! I’ve really taken to fennel since writing this post. I like it a lot and it agrees well!

      We’ve tried dragon fruit, but it has been a long time ago! I can’t even remember what I thought. But (off subject) we love passion fruit and lychees. Lychees you can find canned at Asian markets, but they’re usually sweetened. Sometimes Asian markets will get an order of fresh in about once a year. That’s a real find and treat! If you ever see those, check them out! And you’re supposed to be able to make a tea from the peel. I’ve not tried that yet, but I’d like to. I’ll pick up another dragon fruit to see what I think!

      Your comment reminds me it’s time for another GI update post, but it’s all limbo with nursing.

      Take GOOD care!



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