16 Vegetarian Recipes with Fennel Seeds
Fennel seeds are a superstar ingredient in meatless cooking, providing depth of flavor at such a low cost! I am here to share some seriously tasty vegetarian and vegan recipes which benefit from this wonderful seed that can easily be found in your grocery store’s spice section.
Are you looking for ideas to use up that mysterious jar of fennel seeds in your spice collection? Have you had to buy a jar for one recipe and now you want to use it up? Or have you recently fallen in love with them and want more, more and more ideas. Let me help!
Fennel seeds are a hidden gem and one of my absolute favorite things to cook with as a vegetarian. They are easy to find, cheap to buy, and yet they add so much to a dish. They are adaptable and fit into so many different cuisines. They can help you nail the flavor of meaty dishes you’ve been craving.
Before we start talking specifics, let’s answer any questions you may have…
Fennel Seeds 101
What are fennel seeds?
Fennel seeds are dried whole seeds, harvested from the flowers of the fennel plant. They are generally a light sage green color.
Where can I buy fennel seeds?
You can get them in the herbs and spices section of a supermarket and they are not at all uncommon. Even if they’re not something you have come across before, you are unlikely to have any issue tracking them down.
What do fennel seeds taste like?
Fennel seeds give off a sweet, slightly aniseed, slightly licorice flavor. Not a harsh licorice like the candy, it’s more delicate than that and we use it sparingly.
Don’t be deterred if you don’t generally like aniseed flavors, because it’s really subtle and it’s part of a larger package of flavors. I don’t enjoy a shot of Ouzo or Absinthe, but fennel seeds in your cooking are not going to conjure that same vibe.
Will I like fennel seeds if I don’t like fennel bulb?
I include this question just to make the point that I really don’t enjoy fennel bulb, but I love fennel seeds, so please don’t leave fennel seeds out of a recipe because you don’t like fennel bulb.
(Like I did for many years, only to discover I was really missing out, and now I am obsessed enough to write articles about them on the internet. Go figure.)
What types of cuisine do you tend to find fennel seeds in?
Fennel seeds actually pop up all over the place and aren’t strongly linked to any one region. They feature in Chinese five spice mix, and in Egyptian Dukkah. You’ll see them in some curry recipes and Mexican and Tex-Mex seasoning blends. They also feature heavily in the kind of Italian sausage that’s so dominant in Italian American cooking.
I am not an expert in what’s actually authentic around the world, but I do see fennel seeds fitting into any of these flavor profiles really well.
How fennel seeds can benefit meatless cooking
Fennel seeds are a bit of a secret weapon for vegetarian cooking and I put that down to two main reasons:
- They are source of concentrated umami flavor, and can give off a certain “je ne sais quoi” in a dish that you can’t think how to liven up. This is especially amazing when you consider how cheap they are.
- They’re reminiscent of certain nostalgic meat based meals, so they can be very useful when you’re trying to recreate a dish into a meatless version of itself, especially Italian and Italian-American dishes.
So without further ado, I am going to introduce you to some recipes from my site which put fennel seeds to work! Enjoy…