The most commonly used fennel leaves in Greek cooking are fresh, sold in bunches or attached to the root. It is sometimes sold under the name “anise” because of the similarity in tastes, but anise and fennel are different. Dried fennel leaves, flowers, and seeds are also available, packaged in a variety of containers.
The Greeks are not the only ones who enjoy this herb. You can find it widely used in: Italy, Germany, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, and the Middle East use fennel seed in their cookery.
Fennel is one of the plants which is said to be disliked by fleas, and powdered fennel has the effect of driving away fleas from kennels and stables.
The ancient Greeks named the herb “marathon” – derived from the Greek “maraino” (to grow thin). They believed fennel increased one’s longevity, strength, and courage.
The ancient Greeks named the herb to commemorate a battle at Marathon against the Persians that was fought in a field of fennel.
FENNEL AVOCADO SALAD
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 avocado
- 1 bulb fennel, trimmed and sliced as thinly as possible
- 1/4 small red onion
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste (optional)
- n a medium to large bowl, whisk together the oil, lemon juice, and salt. Set aside.
- Cut the avocado in half lengthwise. Use the tip of the knife to cut the avocado into slices or cubes—carefully cutting through the flesh but not through the peel. Then push the peel, as if you’re trying to flip it inside-out, over the bowl full of dressing and the slices or chunks will fall right out! Toss to coat the avocado with the dressing, mashing some of the avocado into the dressing, if you like.
- Trim off and discard the root end and the green stalks of the fennel (if there are some frilly leaves attaches to the stalks, reserve them to use as a garnish, if you like). Cut the bulb in half lengthwise, slice crosswise as thinly as possible and add the fennel to the bowl.
- Peel and thinly slice the red onion. Add them to the bowl.
- Toss to coat the vegetables evenly with the dressing. Add black pepper and more salt to taste. If you reserved some fennel fronds, use them as a delicate and tasty garnish.