What is a fennel bulb? For starters, fennel is technically an aromatic herb, but it’s bulb-like stem (aka fennel bulb) is commonly used as a vegetable. Thanks to its similar texture, celery is sometimes seen as a fennel bulb substitute, but fennel has a unique flavor all its own. Unlike celery or any other vegetable, fennel is known for its anise or licorice-like undertones. (1)
If you’re wondering how to prepare fennel bulb, I highly recommend roasting fennel bulbs. It’s super easy, the results are so tasty and there’s such little clean up. This roasted fennel bulb recipe elevates the vegetable’s taste and nutrient factors with ingredients like pistachios, grass-fed butter, sea salt and sheep’s milk cheese. Is your mouth watering yet?
What Is a Fennel Bulb?
What is fennel bulb? It’s the white crunchy base of the aromatic herb known as fennel. It can be eaten raw, and it can also be cooked in various ways, including sautéd, grilled or roasted. Originating in the Mediterranean region, its a beloved ingredient for many Italian cooks.
When fennel is raw, its white bulb and bright green fronds both have a mildly sweet licorice flavor. Once cooked, the licorice taste is less prominent, and there is more of a slightly sweet yet earthy flavor. Many people who aren’t big fans of fennel raw actually enjoy it cooked, especially roasted. A roasted fennel bulb has a texture similar to roasted onion. What about the fennel stalks? They are pretty tough and typically not eaten by themselves but can be included in the making of broth or stock.
Why would you want to consume fennel? Well, aside from its interesting and delicious taste, it also has all kinds of fennel health benefits. Fennel is also made into an essential oil, and there are a variety of fennel essential oil benefits.
Fennel bulb can be found in most grocery stores year-round, but its peak season is October through April.
- 284 calories
- 6.3 grams protein
- 23.6 grams fat
- 12.3 grams carbohydrates
- 4.7 grams fiber
- 5.6 grams sugar
- 50.6 grams cholesterol
- 648 milligrams sodium
- 75 micrograms vitamin K (94 percent DV)
- 2,960 IUs vitamin A (59 percent DV)
- 18 milligrams vitamin C (30 percent DV)
- 231 milligrams calcium (23 percent DV)
- 613 milligrams potassium (18 percent DV)
- 107 milligrams phosphorus (11 percent DV)
- 0.2 milligrams vitamin B6 (10 percent DV)
- 39 micrograms folate (9.8 percent DV)
- 32 milligrams magnesium (8 percent DV)
- 1.3 milligrams iron (7.2 percent DV)
- 0.1 milligrams thiamin (6.7 percent DV)
- 0.1 milligrams riboflavin (5.9 percent DV)
- 0.9 milligrams niacin (4.5 percent DV)
- 0.5 milligrams zinc (3.3 percent DV)
- 0.9 milligrams vitamin E (3 percent DV)
It’s pretty awesome how many nutrients you can get in one simple dish, isn’t it? As you can see, you’re getting almost 100 percent of most people’s daily vitamin K requirements with just one serving of this roasted fennel recipe. Fennel is very high in vitamin K, which is key to bone health and proper blood clotting. (11)
Fennel is also a great source of immune-boosting vitamin C and energy-boosting iron as well as potassium. As an electrolyte, potassium is essential to heart health and warding off the common problem of high blood pressure. Many people get plenty of sodium in their diet but not enough potassium, and it’s key to have a balance. (12)
What about all that vitamin A? That comes from both the fennel and butyric acid-rich grass-fed butter. This recipe also contains pistachios for their tasty crunch as well as their impressive pistachio nutrition, which includes high levels of B vitamins, especially vitamin B6 and thiamin.
Last but not least, you won’t want to leave out the Pecorino Romano cheese made from sheep’s milk. It’s high in protein and calcium, a mineral needed by the body to keep the heart, muscles and nerves all working as they should. (13)
How to Make Roasted Fennel Bulbs
Before we get to how to cook fennel bulb, let me tell you a little bit about how to cut a fennel bulb. Sometimes you can buy fennel bulbs by themselves. In this case, how to slice a fennel bulb is very simple. You simply peel off any wilted outer layers and for this recipe, you would cut down the middle.
A lot of times, you’ll purchase fennel whole. This means you’ll have to cut off the stalks attached to the bulb. You can cut them off right where they connect to the fennel bulb. If you want, you can save the fronds for another recipe, and you can toss the stalks into a stock.
To make it easier to cut fennel bulbs in half, you can slice off a tiny bit of the bottom of the bulb so it’s more stable standing up. Then you simply cut the bulb in half lengthwise. How to core a fennel bulb also isn’t hard. If you would like to remove the core for this recipe, cut a V-shaped wedge out of the base of the fennel bulb. This will remove the root and core of the bulb.
Do you think you’re ready to make one of the tastiest roasted fennel bulb recipes around?
In a light-colored saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Whisk continually until butter is a light brown color and exudes a nutty scent, making sure not to let it burn. You’ll know the butter is browned when brown particles begin to form at the bottom of the pan and the butter reduces in size.
Remove butter from heat and pour into a separate container to ensure it doesn’t burn.
When the butter is mostly cooled, add mint and lemon. Mix thoroughly and set aside.
Place the whole fennel on a cutting board.
Clean and trim fennel down to just the bulbs.
Slice each bulb of fennel down the middle where it is the widest.
Once you’re done cutting, you will have six halves. Place fennel bulbs in a baking dish.
Coat bulbs with the browned butter.
Sprinkle the cheese, salt and pepper evenly over the top of the bulbs.
Add the pistachios.
Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, spooning butter back onto the bulbs 15 minutes into baking.
When the time is done, the upward-facing side of the fennel bulbs will be lightly brown, and the pistachios will be evenly roasted.
Serve these roasted fennel bulbs as a side for your favorite dish and enjoy!
- 3 fennel bulbs
- ½ cup pistachios, chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh mint, chiffonade
- 1 stick unsalted butter
- 1 cup Pecorino Romano, grated
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- In a light-colored saucepan over medium heat, melt butter.
- Whisk continually until butter is a light brown color and exudes a nutty scent. Make sure not to let the butter burn.
- Butter is browned when brown particles begin to form at the bottom of the pan and butter reduces in size.
- Remove from heat and pour into a separate container to ensure it doesn’t burn.
- When butter is mostly cooled, add mint and lemon. Mix thoroughly and set aside.
- Clean and trim fennel down to just the bulb.
- Slice the bulb down the middle where it is the widest.
- Place bulbs in baking dish and coat with browned butter.
- Sprinkle salt, pepper, cheese and pistachios evenly over the top of the bulbs.
- Bake for 20–30 minutes, spooning butter back onto the bulbs 15 minutes into baking.