White bulb moment: Skye Gyngell cooks with fennel

Perfectly in season and versatile enough to roast or eat raw – it's no wonder fennel is finding its way into almost everything Skye feels like eating right now

Crisp, with the cleanest aniseed taste, fennel is one of my favourite vegetables, largely because it is as good raw as it is cooked. In season now and at its very best, I am using it in almost everything I cook.

Skye Gyngell is head chef at Petersham Nurseries, Richmond, Surrey, tel: 020 8605 3627, petershamnurseries.com

Fennel, radish, pea and mozzarella salad

This is a lovely, delicate salad that is simple to prepare and redolent of spring.

Serves 4

2 balls of good-quality mozzarella
1 tbsp crème fraîche
4 breakfast radishes
1 bulb of fennel
75g/3oz peas
A few drops of lemon juice
1 tbsp mild-tasting extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Tear the mozzarella into equal halves and place in a bowl. Add the crème fraîche gently, so that the mozzarella is just coated. Season with a little salt and arrange on a plate. Wash and pat dry the radishes and slice finely. Remove the tough outer leaves from the fennel and cut in half. Now slice finely. Scatter the radishes, fresh peas and fennel over the mozzarella and squeeze over the lemon juice. Drizzle over the oil, scatter a few of your favourite salad leaves, and season with the salt and a little pepper.

Puréed fennel

The taste of the fennel becomes soft and delicate when cooked this way. It is a perfect foil for oily fish such as mackerel or sardines.

3 fennel bulbs
40g/2oz butter
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 small bunch of dill, leaves only

Slice the base off the bulbs and remove the tough outer layer. Chop into one-inch pieces and place in a heavy-based saucepan. Add just enough cool water to cover. Add a good pinch of salt and place over a medium heat. Bring to the boil, then turn down so that the water is just simmering. Cook for 15 minutes, by which time the fennel should be soft when pierced with a fork. Remove from the heat and drain. Place the cooked fennel into a food processor and blend to a smooth purée. Add the butter and plenty of black pepper. Chop the dill finely and stir through the purée. Serve. The purée can be made in advance and gently warmed through before serving.

Roasted fennel and tomatoes with black olives

If pushed, I think I prefer roasted fennel to any other type – its flavour is deliciously sweet and the aniseed flavour just a little less pronounced. I can't think of anything it doesn't work with. The slow-roasted tomatoes in this recipe take a little time to cook, but last well and are also good on all manner of things.

Serves 4

4 ripe plum tomatoes
1 tsp caster sugar
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp sea salt
A little olive oil

Heat your oven to 120C/250F/Gas . Slice the tomatoes in half and lay cut-side up on a baking tray. Mix the sugar, pepper and salt in a bowl then sprinkle evenly over the tomatoes. Place on the middle shelf of the oven and roast for two hours. Remove and set aside to cool. While they are cooling, drizzle over the oil.

4 bulbs of fennel
Salt and pepper
1 dried red chilli, crumbled
1 tbsp olive oil
30ml/1fl oz extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
A dozen or so good-quality black olives
Sea salt and ground black pepper

Heat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas4. Remove the outer leaves from the fennel, reserving the fluffy green fronds as you do so. Slice into quarters and lay in a roasting tin. Season with salt and pepper, add the chilli and pour over the oil. Place on the middle shelf of the oven and roast for 45 minutes, by which time they should be tender and slightly caramelised. Remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature.

Arrange the fennel and tomatoes on a plate, season and drizzle over the extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar, scatter over the olives and fennel fronds, and serve.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Recruitment Genius: Tour Drivers - UK & European

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity to join a is a...

    Old Royal Naval College: ORNC Visitor Experience Volunteer

    Unpaid voluntary work: Old Royal Naval College: Join our team of friendly volu...

    Recruitment Genius: Customer Service / Sales Assistant

    £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This airport parking organisation are looking...

    Recruitment Genius: PCV Bus Drivers

    £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Do you enjoy bus driving and are looking for ...

    Day In a Page

    Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

    Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

    One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
    The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

    The enemy within

    People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
    Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

    Autumn/winter menswear 2015

    The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    Army general planning to come out
    Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

    What the six wise men told Tony Blair

    Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
    25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

    25 years of The Independent on Sunday

    The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
    Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

    Smash hit go under the hammer

    It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
    Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

    The geeks who rocked the world

    A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
    Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

    Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

    Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
    Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

    Growing mussels

    Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project