Fennel – a hugely under-rated and under-used ingredient

Fennel, or more specifically, the fennel bulb, is a vegetable I don’t often see in use here in the UK and that’s a real shame.

The fennel bulb is delicious raw, steamed, sautéed, barbequed…you name it!

At only 31kcals per 100g and rich in essential vitamins, it is a very healthy as well as delicious vegetable. Its sweet, aniseed-like taste is a delight for the palate.

I enjoy it finely sliced (ideally with a mandolin) and seasoned with a little extra virgin olive oil & salt as a refreshing and gloriously tasty side-salad, though it’s equally delicious when mixed in with a variety of leafy salads, tomatoes & cucumber for a rich mixed salad.

I love using chunks of fennel bulb with peppers (capsicum), onions, garlic, courgettes & carrots for a roasted vegetable taste explosion, or just simply placed on the BBQ in the summer, then seasoned with a drizzle of olive oil & salt.

If you haven’t tried fennel or haven’t had any recently, why not give it a go?

As an added bonus, if you are watching your blood pressure (as I am), then you’ll find that fennel is said to have diuretic properties and therefore be useful in the reduction of high blood pressure.  It is also known to be a great digestive aid, particularly in the reduction of bloating (often in the form of fennel tea or, with infants suffering from colic, as an ingredient in gripe water).

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Mamma’s remedy | food blog | recipe | good food

When I was unwell as a child, my mum would give me boiled rice, but not just any boiled rice, oh no!

Risotto rice (e.g. Arborio or Carnaroli), boiled in ample salted water (not cooked like a risotto, but with all the water added at the start), then served with some of the starchy water (i.e. you don’t drain it),  a generous drop of olive oil, a knob of butter & tons of grated parmesan. Delicious and so comforting!

Now I’m an Italian Mamma myself, I’ve been doing the same with my kids when they’re not well (though if their tummies are the problem, I steer clear of the butter & parmesan, settling for just a tiny drop of olive oil for taste instead).

My eldest daughter Charlie, aged 14, is proving quite capable in the kitchen already and tends to cook her own rice when she’s not well.  It’s an instant feel-good remedy that’s becoming a family tradition, being passed down from generation to generation.  I can imagine my grandchildren, great-grandchildren and beyond enjoying the same comfort food when they’re unwell!

Try it – you’ll immediately feel like you’re getting a lovely warm hug!

For more recipes, tips & general foodie stuff, go to www.gloriouslygoodfood.com