March Cooking Tip – That Delicious Vegetable called Fennel

“In 490 B.C. in a fennel field some 26 miles from Athens, the Greeks defeated the Persians.  An Anthenian runner bearing this welcome news raced back to town.  Since then, the length of a marathon race has remained the same as from the fennel field into town, or 26 miles and 385 yards.  The Greek name for fennel is marathon.”   The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia, Rebecca Wood

Often we think of fennel seeds that are often used in the sausage found on most pizzas.  They can also be found in a variety of dishes, especially Greek recipes.  In Indian restaurants it is common to find them in small dishes found near the exit door.  In this situation, they are eaten at the end of a meal to assist in digestion. 

The bulb is a different variety of fennel used as a vegetable.  Mostly found in Mediterranean cooking, it is now available in most markets in the United States and is plentiful and fresh this time of year.  I enjoy the licorice taste of the raw vegetable.  It really adds to the flavor of a fresh green salad.  You can cut it very thin to enhance a variety of salads from a mixed green to a salad made mostly of fresh fennel and grapefruit.   In addition the fennel bulb can be baked or added to a dish like the chicken recipe this month.   When cooked, the strong licorice flavor diminishes quite a bit, leaving a subtle richness in its place.   

Generally speaking fennel seeds not only aid in digestion but help in reducing gas and spasms in the digestive system and aids in eliminating phlegm.  They are loaded with phytonutrients and contain a great deal of antioxidants so consequently have many health benefits.

If you have never used it, give it a try.  You too might find it a wonderful addition to your regular vegetable repertoire!

March Recipe – Spicy Chicken with Fennel

I was at Whole Foods yesterday trying to figure out what to make for dinner.  They had a big batch of fennel that looked delicious.  I decided to buy a bulb and come up with a dish that included it along with chicken.  I ended up going to Epicurious to get inspired and found an entrée that I’ve modified some.  It came out delicious so I thought I’d share it!


1 tsp      Ground Cumin

½ tsp     Paprika

½ tsp     Celtic Salt

¼ tsp     Cayenne

½ tsp     Aleppo Chili Powder

2 lg        Chicken Breast halves, skinned, boned, and sliced in 1-2” strips lengthwise

4 TBSP   Extra Virgin Olive Oil, divided

3TBSP    Lemon juice, approximately ½ one large lemon

1 lg         Fennel bulb, halved lengthwise, ends removes and cut in ¾” slices crosswise

3 C          Chicken Broth

¾ C         Green olives with Pimentos sliced in quarters lengthwise


Mix all spices in a large bowl.  Add chicken, making sure to coat thoroughly, cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours. 

In a large sauté pan, heat 2 TBSP olive oil over medium heat.  Add fennel and sauté until fennel starts to brown, approximately 5 minutes.  Add chicken broth and lemon juice.  Boil for 10 minutes.  Reduce heat to simmer for 1 – 1 ½ hours covered.  At end of time, in a separate sauté pan, heat 2 TBSP olive oil over medium/high heat.  Add chicken and lightly brown on both sides; approximately 1 minute per side.  Add chicken to fennel pan, partially cover and simmer for 20 minutes.  Add olives to pan and continue simmering for additional 10 minutes.  Serve immediately.

 Serves 2-3 people

I served this with fresh steamed green beans and a simple mixed green salad with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.