Our kitchen garden cook reveals her favourite recipes with fennel.
Fennel is like Marmite: you either love it or hate it. Those who don’t like it raw could do well to try it cooked, when its aniseed flavour mellows considerably. It’s a shame for anyone to miss out on growing these, not only delicious, but also wonderfully ornamental, bulbs with pretty, edible leaves—they’re a kitchen-garden dream
Pork and fennel-seed burgers with Florence fennel and focaccia buns (serves 4)
For the focaccia
500g plain flour, sifted
7g dried yeast
300ml warm water
15ml olive oil, plus a little more for brushing over the dough and baked bread
For the pork and fennel-seed burgers and cooked fennel
500g pork mince
1tspn fennel seeds
1 egg, beaten
A splash of olive oil
1 red onion
3 Florence fennel bulbs, cut into strips
1 lemon, zest and juice of
A splash of white wine
1 red chilli
For the aioli
2 cloves garlic, crushed
Mix the focaccia ingredients—flour, yeast, salt, water and olive oil—in a large bowl before kneading for about 10 minutes until the mixture forms a silky, smooth ball of dough. Place it in a clean bowl and lightly brush it with olive oil, then put a clean, damp tea towel over it and allow it to double in size, in a warm place, for about an hour. Knock it back into shape and allow it to rise for a further half hour.
Heat your oven to 180˚C/350˚F/gas mark 4, put the flattened dough onto a lightly oiled baking sheet and use your fingers to poke holes in the surface. Gently brush with olive oil and bake for 20 minutes before scattering sea salt over the bread.
Make the pork burgers by combining the mince, fennel seeds, seasoning and beaten egg, then roll the mixture into balls and flatten them slightly. Arrange them on an oiled baking tray and put them into the oven alongside the focaccia for about 25 minutes or until completely cooked through.
Heat a splash of olive oil in a large frying pan, add the sliced red onion, chopped fennel, white wine, lemon juice and zest, chopped chilli and diced apple and then fry for about 10 minutes until cooked. Add the crushed garlic to the mayonnaise to a make a simple aioli.
To serve, cut the focaccia into squares and then halve them like burger buns, before piling a mound of cooked fennel on one half and adding a burger. Spread the upper side of the bun with the aioli and enjoy.
More fennel recipes
Roasted fennel flatbreads
Mix a cup of gram (chickpea) flour with a splash of olive oil and enough water to create a pancake-batter consistency, then add seasoning and chopped herbs. Heat olive oil in a non-stick frying pan and ladle in spoonfuls of the batter to make small flatbreads, turning after
a couple of minutes, and, when done, placing them on a baking sheet. In a small bowl, mix together chopped fennel, olive oil and seasoning. Arrange small mounds onto the flatbreads and then bake in a moderate oven for 15 minutes. Serve with garlic flowers.
Fennel-and-lemon risotto with seafood
Fry a diced onion in olive oil before adding a cup of risotto rice and stirring well to coat. Add a finely chopped fennel bulb and 1 cup of white wine, wait for the rice to completely absorb the liquid, then add 2 further cups of chicken stock and simmer until about 1 cup remains. Add 300g mixed seafood and simmer until all the liquid has been absorbed. Add a squeeze of lemon juice and a sprinkle of zest just before serving.