There is a little patch of feathery fennel fronds in my herb garden. Fennel is one of the first harbingers of spring.
Fennel is a perennial herb and a member of the parsley/carrot family. I grow both Florence and bronze fennel. Florence fennel is a pretty green color and produces a fat bulb that is harvested annually. Bronze fennel has a bronze tint and is grown for its leaves and seeds. Both reach heights of up to 4-5 feet and like a sunny location that is well drained.
Fennel seeds can tame the appetite and are good for digestion. With its high content of vitamins A and C along with calcium and iron, fennel is a good herb to incorporate into your diet.
Fennel fronds/leaves are delicious with steamed vegetables and the seeds, when ground with olive oil and garlic, make a delicious herb paste for pork. Sliced thin, fennel bulbs are tasty in a salad. Fennel seeds are an important ingredient in Italian sausage.
RIGATONI WITH ITALIAN SAUSAGE
Super weeknight supper.
1 pound Italian sausage links, grilled and sliced into coins (or sliced and sautéed in skillet)
1 pound rigatoni or short pasta, cooked
2 teaspoons minced garlic or to taste
2-3 bell peppers: red, yellow, orange, whatever – large chop, or cut into strips
1 jar favorite pasta sauce
While pasta is cooking, film sauté pan with olive oil, then saute garlic and peppers and cook until peppers are tender. Add sauce and cooked sausage and heat until bubbly and hot. Serve over rigatoni and garnish with cheese.