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.
Pragense is one of about 200 species of viburnum that comes from wooded areas of Malaysia to South Africa. It's a must-have because there are few plants that match this strong growing upright shrub that becomes a showstopper in the landscape.Pragense is an evergreen shrub that has narrow textured leaves and in spring clusters of pink buds open to pink flowers!
The dill seeds that I scattered over the ground in the herb garden last fall are already up a couple of inches.
Dill is a member of the parsley/carrot family and is an annual that self seeds readily. The flavor is distinctive - think dill pickles. Dill is easy to grow from seeds but doesn’t like to be moved around a lot once it’s established. Dill likes full sun. Try Mammoth/Long Island dill for a beautiful background border plant, since it can reach 5 feet. For containers, Fernleaf and Dukat are good, since they reach a height of between 18” and 24” high. These two varieties are slower to bolt.
To harvest dill, pick leaves before flowers open. Pick close to the stem to encourage side growth. Seeds are ready to be harvested when they turn light brown.
Dill contains calcium, manganese and iron. It also contains carvone, which has a soothing effect on the tummy. Dill helps relieve gas and flatulence.
Fresh or dried leaves are good in breads, cheese, herb blends and pickles. Try it with fish and root vegetables.
The reader who shared this recipe said her dad used to make these up in a washtub!
3 quarts thinly sliced cucumbers
2 cups ea: thinly sliced green peppers, onions and carrots
1 jar pimentos, drained (opt)
2 tablespoons celery seed
3 cups sugar
1/3 cup salt
2 cups clear vinegar
Pour brine over veggies. Let sit several hours on counter, stirring every once in a while. Store in frig.