Growing and Cooking With Fennel: Florence Fennel

Growing and Cooking With Fennel: Florence Fennel
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Florence Fennel (F. vulgare azoricum), also known as finocchio, is an annual. One source did called this variety F. vulgare dulce, but it appears that is not actually correct. If you look for the seed or plant at a garden center be sure to ask for Florence Fennel-versus the Common Fennel. This type of fennel is known mainly for the stem that swells to a "bulb" as it grows. It is similar to celery and can be used raw or cooked.
Plant the fennel seeds directly into rich soil, and keep the bed moist for two weeks until the first leaves appear. At this point be careful not to over water, but treat as you would a garden vegetable. Fennel can be planted right up till August, so it's not too late to get started! The bulb does take months to grow to it's full size, but you can use it at any point. When the bulbs are about the size of an egg, pile the soil up around it so it will continue to grow away from the light. At this point the bulb should be ready to harvest in 2 to 3 weeks. You may cut off the seed heads when they form and give the bulb a few more days to grow, then harvest. In mild climates you can grow and harvest fennel all year long using this method!

To store your fennel bulbs wrap them in plastic and store in a cool place. You can also use the young leaves of Florence Fennel just as we mentioned for Common Fennel. The bulbs are often eaten as celery when thinly sliced and added to salads and soups. Try mincing the bulb and adding to a salad of grapefruit and avocado for a different dish. Today's recipes will give you a good idea of how you can use the bulb.

Both types of fennel are worthy of adding to your vegetable or herb garden. They do require a good amount of space, but are a beautiful addition to your beds with their feathery and wispy foliage.

Oven Potatoes with Fennel


20 ounces Yukon Gold potatoes, cut in 1/2" cubes

1 medium fennel bulb, trimmed and cut in 1" slices

1 medium sweet onion, diced

1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced finely

2 teaspoons vegetable oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

freshly ground black pepper -- to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. In large bowl, combine potatoes, fennel, onion, parsley, oil, salt and pepper; toss gently until well coated. Arrange mixture in a single layer on a prepared baking sheet. Bake, turning occasionally, until potatoes are crisp on all sides, 30-35 minutes. Serve immediately.

Linguine with Vegetables


1 lb. linguine, uncooked

1/2 cup chopped cilantro

1/8 cup chopped mint

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

5 Tbsp. olive oil, divided

Salt and pepper, to taste

1 cup fresh peas

2 cloves garlic

1 cup sliced sweet onion

1 cup. diced yellow squash

1 cup diced zucchini

1 (12 oz.) can crushed tomatoes

1/2 cup diced fennel bulb

To Make Pesto: In a blender or food processor, purée the cilantro, mint, Parmesan cheese, and 3 Tbsp. of oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside. For Vegetables: Blanch the peas in boiling water for three minutes; drain; rinse in cold water. Heat a large pot over high heat. Add the remaining 3 Tbsp. of oil, garlic, and onions, and mix well. Add the peas and other vegetables, except the tomatoes, and continue cooking over very high heat until the vegetables are tender. Add the tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Remove the pot from the heat. For Pasta: Cook the pasta according to package directions; drain. Toss the pasta with vegetables over low heat, mixing in half of the herb pesto mixture. Serve with a spoonful of pesto, and garnish with Parmesan cheese and springs of cilantro. Makes eight servings.

Fennel and Pepper Coleslaw


1 medium fennel bulb, very thinly sliced

2 medium red and/or yellow bell peppers, thinly sliced

4 scallions, finely chopped

2 tablespoons mayonnaise, regular or light

1 tablespoon grated orange rind

1 tablespoon cider vinegar

Combine all the ingredients in a medium bowl; toss well. Let stand at least 10 minutes to blend the flavors.

Click Here for Fennel Part I-Common Fennel!


About The Author

Brenda Hyde is a freelance writer living on ten acres in rural Michigan with her husband and three kids. She is a mom, grandma, gardener, cook and writer. She blogs on all of these topics at


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