Antioxidants = Fennel Seed + Fennel

Fennel Brand

Fennel just isn’t offered enough. I rarely see the fragrant vegetable on restaurant menus or in the prepared meals section of grocery stores. It’s sad to see that fennel has gone to the black books. I’d think that chefs would love to incorporate fennel more into their dishes—easy to cut, cooks quickly, adds lots of flavor, all three parts (bulb, stems, and fronds) are edible, versatile, and so incredibly nutritious. Oh well, it’s all Greek to me!

Fennel has an important history in Europe, as the plant is indigenous to the Mediterranean. Nations around the continent planted and cultivated fennel to use it for a variety of purposes, including warding off witchcraft and medicinal reasons. Poets, philosophers, and other specialists wrote about how fennel provides us with strength and courage. From Spain to Sweden, fennel was a super star. What happened?

I’m letting fennel share the limelight in my diet now, as among it’s many medicinal powers, fennel has antioxidants to help prevent free radicals from crippling our cells. The phytonutrient called anethole provides the strong wall in blocking carcinogenesis, when regular cells become cancerous ones. In order to really get a supersaturated serving of antioxidants in the bag, fennel needs a sidekick. So fennel, meet fennel seeds. The fennel bulb is not the same plant as seeding fennel, although they are related. Fennel seeds have a similar background, coming from Europe, and was also used for medicinal purposes, such as an appetite suppressant. The antioxidants kaempferol and quercetin protect us from cancers, especially with the help of added fiber that the seeds contain. Let’s get fennel out of the doghouse and into our lives! With fennel seeds, this dynamic duo will get us into the pink of good condition… Euro-style.

Fennel Prep

Sautéed Fennel with Fennel Seed

modified from Sautéed Fennel with Lemon and Pepper.” Cooking Light. Sept 2007.

  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 2 small-medium fennel bulbs
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fennel fronds
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  1. To prepare fennel, cut off all of the stems so all you have is the bulb. With the bottom of the bulb on the counter, and the longer length of the bulb going from front to back, slice from top to bottom. In each half, cut out the center, almost like coring an apple. A larger chunk should be taken out from the bottom as this part is closer to the root, taking less out from the center as your knife moves up the bulb, almost forming an upside-down V. Once cored, slice the bulb into 1/2-inch slices.
  2. Cook fennel seeds in a medium frying pan over medium heat for about 3 minutes, or until toasted and fragrant. Remove from heat. Crush with a mortar and pestle, coffee/spice grinder, or by rolling a wine bottle over the seeds on a flat surface.
  3. Combine fennel, crushed fennel seeds, fennel fronds, salt, rind, and pepper in a large bowl.
  4. In the same frying pan, add oil and heat over medium heat. Add fennel mixture and partially cover with a lid. Cook for about 6 minutes, stirring 3-4 times, until the edges of some of the fennel slices brown and the fennel slices look soft. Serve immediately.

Start using fennel instead of celery in your recipes, especially if you find it at your farmers’ markets. This dish can share the plate with plenty of other options, such as smoked salmon, sausage, hearty breads, or polenta with tomato sauce. Bon ap, to antioxidants!

Antioxidants = Squash + Cloves

Stuffed Patty Pans

I’m sure I drink enough red wine to be comfortable with my antioxidant intake, but sometimes I might go through a dry spell, during which I’ll need to get my antioxidants elsewhere. Or sometimes there’s a flu going around the office, and I’m just a sitting duck, waiting for my turn to catch the cold and have 48 hours of misery. To take action, I’ll make a large, one-dish meal to add more antioxidants to my diet for a few days. Back off germs, you cannot get through this immune system!

So I’ve got Ikea meatballs in my freezer and they are simply amazing; only a few ingredients go a long way in creating this tasty treat. Meatballs don’t have to just go on pasta, though, nor do you have to douse them in a sugary sauce to incorporate them into your meal. Instead, chop up these little guys after cooking them and use them in stuffing! Brilliant! Use any meatballs or sausage meat for this recipe: Stuffed Patty Pan Saucers.

Patty pan squash is the perfect vegetable boat to take aboard handfuls of stuffing. These squashes come in a variety of colors, which are quite a site when corralled into a bin on the market tables. Their colorful skins are enriched with antioxidants, so make sure you do not shave off the skins of these beauties! Other squashes have similar properties, but I think that these spherical molds are perfect for holding stuffing (I recommend these scoops to help with pitting or hollowing out avocados, melons, or any other produce item). In order to boost up the antioxidant powers, the squash needs a sidekick in action. So patty pans, meet cloves! Cloves are one of the most healthiest spices for our bodies that are found as star ingredients in cuisines all around the world, from Indian to Greek. Clove oils are even used by medical experts to relieve pain and inflammation. Cloves can be added to both sweet and savory dishes, and add a burst of flavor when you use even just a little bit. In addition to the recipe below, sprinkle your cloves onto sauteed greens, potato bakes, Mexican hot chocolate, and more, to enjoy the benefits from cloves!

Get your oven mitts and baking sheet ready!

Finished Patty Pans

  • 1 1/2 lbs patty pan squash
  • 1/2 lb Ikea meatballs, or other beef meatballs or beef sausage
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 tablespoon bacon grease
  • 1/2 tomato
  • 1/4 panko, or more if you like more of a crunch
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  1. Cook meatballs according to package instructions and set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  3. Wash squash and slice in half lengthwise. Trim the bottoms of the squash halves so that the squash can sit flat without leaning or rolling around. Scoop out the insides and roughly chop up. Make sure that you scoop out enough so that there is only about a 1/4- to 1/2-inch shell of the patty pan squash; otherwise, the squash may not cook thoroughly in the oven. Place chopped up squash in a bowl, and place the squash shells onto a baking sheet.
  4. Chop onion and mince garlic. Heat bacon grease (or oil or butter substitute) in a pan over medium-low heat. Saute onion and garlic for about 7 minutes or until translucent. The point of this step is to add more flavor and depth to your stuffing.
  5. Roughly chop meatballs, and add to chopped up squash along with the onions and garlic. Chop tomato and add to mixture. Add 1/8 cup panko and the rest of the ingredients. Stir well.
  6. Fill the squash shells with the stuffing. I know you can put it all in the shells and use it all up! Push down on the stuffing and pack it in well… you got this! They’ll look so plump and beautiful!
  7. Top stuffing in shells with the rest of the panko. Put your picture-perfect baking sheet into the oven and set the timer for 40 minutes. If the shells are closer to 1/2-inch thick, add 5 more minutes to your baking time.

The smell of the cloves with beef and roasted vegetables will make your home smell oh so pleasant! Such a great recipe to have for guests as the shells can bake as you welcome your guests or as you prepare other items. Please remember your seasonal vegetables when creating this recipe, and feel free to adjust the stuffing accordingly. Bon ap, to antioxidants!