Fennel Breaks Through Smoke
Amidst the severe haze and poor air quality this week, we could not help but use sense of smell as our guide. The ethereal smell of smoke was broken by sweet maple aromas of blackberries, earthy kales and one of my favorites at this time of year, sweet fennel.
Fennel is related to the carrot family and resembles celery. It combines the sweetness of one with the crispness of the other while being more delicate than either. This aromatic vegetable contains an incredible essential oil that permeates the whole plant and in its consumption it aids in digestion, bronchial coughs, soothes nerves, stimulates glandular secretions and can help with declining eyesight. Quite a phenomenal list of qualities for a veggie that thrives in the longer hot autumns.
Fennel has many varying textures as the stalk is crisp and juicy all the way up to the top where its fronds are wonderful for garnishing. It can be steamed, braised or simply eaten raw and fresh. One of my favorite recipes takes shaved fennel and celeriac root raw, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and drizzle with a tiny amount of truffle-infused olive oil − yummy! It also pairs well with many of the hardy greens in the chicory family like endive, escarole and radicchio that follow us from summer into fall.
At home in the kitchen, try and take in the aromatic qualities of your veggies this week and give your respiratory system a break from the smoke and dust. Discover the natural characteristics that will find their way in good health into your bodies. Sweet, bitter, lemony, anise, earthy, sour − all intoxicating and exquisite in their chemical constituencies minus any unwanted toxins pesticides, fertilizers, only organic, all from the ground!
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