Despite its long history, ground fennel seed is still a bit of an under-the-radar spice that often gets overshadowed by its more popular spice counterparts, like cinnamon and nutmeg. So, what is ground fennel seed exactly? Well, it's simply the dried and ground seeds of the fennel plant, which is part of the parsley family. The fennel plant is native to the Mediterranean, but has since spread to other parts of the world and is now commonly used as a spice in various cuisines, including Italian, Indian, and Middle Eastern. The flavour of ground fennel seed is sweet, warm, and slightly licorice-y, making it a versatile spice that can be used in both sweet and savoury dishes. And, in addition to its delicious flavour, ground fennel seed also has a number of health benefits, including helping to relieve digestive issues and reducing inflammation. In ancient times, the fennel plant was believed to have mystical properties and was often used in religious ceremonies. Additionally, it was also believed to have powerful medicinal properties, with the ancient Greeks and Romans using it to treat everything from digestive issues to eye problems. In more recent times, ground fennel seed has been used in various cuisines, with the spice being used in dishes like Italian sausage, Indian curries, and Middle Eastern stews. And, while it may not be as popular as some of the other spices out there, ground fennel seed is definitely worth checking out if you're looking to add a new flavour to your dishes.
Here are a few recipes that feature ground fennel seed:
- Fennel-Crusted Pork Tenderloin: Coat a pork tenderloin in a mixture of ground fennel seed, dried thyme, salt, and pepper, then roast in the oven for a flavourful and tender main dish.
- Fennel and Onion Roasted Potatoes: Toss sliced potatoes with olive oil, ground fennel seed, salt, pepper, and sliced onions, then roast in the oven for a delicious side dish.
- Fennel and Apple Salad: Mix sliced apples, fennel, and red onion with a dressing made from olive oil, lemon juice, and ground fennel seed for a fresh and crunchy salad.
- Fennel and Carrot Soup: Saute diced fennel and carrots in a pot with butter, then add vegetable or chicken broth and ground fennel seed, and blend until smooth for a creamy and flavourful soup.
- Fennel and Sausage Pasta: Cook Italian sausage in a pan, then add diced fennel and cook until soft. Toss with cooked pasta, grated Parmesan cheese, and a sprinkle of ground fennel seed for a hearty and flavourful pasta dish.