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It wasn't so long ago that fennel, or anise, was an exotic, hard-to-find vegetable. Even those who discovered it often found its licorice flavor was an acquired taste. But the great secret to fennel is that, cooked or cured in lemon juice or vinegar, the licorice flavor goes away, leaving a bright, crisp, slightly sweet taste.

Acquiring the taste is worth the effort; fennel is high in vitamin C, fiber and antioxidants. Perhaps more important, in this season of feasting, it's traditionally renowned as a digestive herb. Italians often nibble on it for dessert, or when they have an upset stomach. I love it on the Thanksgiving table for this reason, and I use my friend Jamie's delicious and simple recipe:

  • Cut off the stalks and the stem end and any brownish edges, leaving just the round bulb.

  • Cut in half and slice as thinly as possible, with a mandoline if you have one.

  • Marinate for 20 minutes in the juice of one lemon. Add a pinch of sea salt and a few liberal dashes of extra virgin olive oil. Toss and taste; if too lemony, add more oil, and more salt if desired. If necessary, eat for dessert!

- Larissa Phillips