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Bulb, or Florence, fennel looks like a squat, pale version of celery but there is also a leafier plant, grown as a herb and for its seeds, which has long, thin stalks. Both are natives of Italy, and fennel has a real affinity with Italian flavourings. Its sweet, aniseedy taste can be pungent when raw but mellows with cooking.
Choose plump, firm bulbs that are heavy for their size and store in the fridge for up to three days. Before cooking, trim the base, cut off the hard stalks (the feathery fronds can be reserved for garnish) and remove any stringy or damaged outer layers.

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