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Baby fennel refers to immature fennel, of which both the bulb and leaves are edible. Its young, bright green or white bulbs are long and thin in comparison to the much rounder, mature fennel bulbs. Baby fennel bulbs are crunchy and are best eaten when they are around 5 centimeters in diameter. Baby fennel also produces long green stems and feathery leaves. Both the bulb and the leaves have a sweet, herbaceous licorice-like taste.
Baby fennel can be used raw in salads, or as a garnish for pasta or soup dishes. Baby fennel can also be steamed, grilled, baked, or sauteed. Baby fennel pairs well with other vegetables like lettuce, tomatoes, and radishes. It can be served with oils, butter, parsley, thyme, saffron, citrus, and strong, salty cheeses like pecorino, parmesan, goats cheese, and feta.
Store Baby fennel wrapped in foil in the refrigerator, where it will last for up to a week.
Fennel, pear, and parmesan salad
2 baby fennel, trimmed, fronds reserved
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
70g piece parmesan or pecorino Romano
2 tablespoons walnuts, toasted, roughly chopped