Both bronze fennel and regular fennel both belong to the same family as carrots, dill, and parsley. The herb comes from the Mediterranean region where it has been used for millennia. The bronze form of the herb is not quite as popular as its greener cousin but it has a similar flavor and plays almost exactly the same role in dishes. Here are some of the best bronze fennel uses in the kitchen:
As a tea herb
Like regular fennel, bronze fennel is great for making tea. Simply add it to hot water and steep. Note that over-steeping can cause the compounds that give bronze fennel tea its medicinal benefits to be destroyed. Bronze fennel tea’s health benefits include antiseptic effects that help to prevent foodborne illness.
Fennel’s licorice flavor has long been considered an excellent complement for fish and the same goes for bronze fennel. One classic preparation involves stuffing a whole fish with chopped fennel fronds and stalks, wrapping the fish in foil or parchment paper and then baking it. Bronze fennel works with all kinds of fish but it is believed to be especially enjoyable with salmon and other fatty fish.
In different salads
You can chop the fronds finely and sprinkle them over the ingredients in your salad as a garnish. Alternatively, you can add them to a salad dressing. Thinly sliced bronze fennel stalks pair well with most salad ingredients. Use a mandolin slicer to get them as thin and possible if you want to use them in a salad. Chopped bronze fennel fronds make an attractive addition to pale, creamy dressings. Use them in aioli or homemade mayonnaise.
Because of how well bronze fennel goes with creamy and fatty ingredients, it is a great option for potato salads and coleslaws where you can add the chopped fronds to the dressing or sprinkle them over the top right before serving. Along with rich ingredients, bronze fennel fronds are particularly enjoyable in dressings that contain orange or other citrus fruits.
On root vegetables
Bronze fennel is a great seasoning for root vegetables. Carrots, beets, and potatoes all benefit from its licorice notes. Aside from the matter of flavor, the chopped fronds give an attractive appearance to these vegetables. If you want to serve potatoes with the bronze fennel, you can sprinkle the fennel over the top before roasting or you can add it to a creamy sauce for the potatoes.
In a compound butter
One great way to add bronze fennel to dishes containing vegetables and seafood is to make a compound butter with it and add that to the dish. You get the flavor and richness of butter along with the aromatic qualities of the fennel.
In a stock
Regular fennel is a staple in French stocks and bronze fennel can be too. Add it alongside celery, onions, and the other aromatics that you would use in traditional stock making.
In a marinade
Chop bronze fennel finely for use in marinades. Both chicken and pork will be enhanced by the bronze fennel flavor. Its flavor goes well with other key savory seasonings like garlic and pepper.
In Italian cooking, one of the traditional ways to use fennel is to pair it with pasta. Bronze fennel is great for this type of application. The licorice flavor combines with tomatoes and basil well, which makes it a natural for red sauce dishes served with angel hair or penne pasta.