Karima Moyer-Nocchi

Culinary Historian, Author

Fennel is a gem of the culinary world and yet too often overlooked. The seeds are bold and assertive, the fronds lend a gentle aromatic touch, and the bulbs are versatile and adaptable; they can be baked, sautéed or served raw as a salad protagonist.

But fennel’s charm goes beyond flavor. Renaissance physicians praised its curative powers for settling digestion and sweetening the breath. Giacomo Castelvetro, writing in 1614, revealed that fennel was also used as a munchie by tavern keepers to pass off cheapo wine. Fennel cleanses the palate between sips, enhancing the taste of wine with its slightly sweet licorice flavor. The aroma, rich in “anethole,” heightens the perception of a wine’s flavor profile, making the bouquet more enticing.

So if you find yourself with a lingering bottle of dubious wine — perhaps a leftover gift from a well-meaning dinner guest — embrace the opportunity and discover its potential accompanied by this lovely fennel salad.

Fennel Salad with Orange, Pomegranate, and Pine Nuts

(Watch the video above)


  • 400g fennel (after trimming)
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 200g orange, peeled and trimmed
  • 100g pomegranate seeds
  • 5 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 40g pine nuts
  • Salt and pepper
  • ½ tsp each, lemon and orange zest
  • ½ tsp dried fennel flowers (optional)
  1. Slice the fennel very finely. Place in a bowl with lemon juice and toss. 
  2. Prep the pomegranate and orange as shown.
  3. Heat 2 tbps of oil in a small pan and sauté the pine nuts until golden.
  4. Toss all of the ingredients together and chill for two or more hours. The fennel will soften and absorb the flavors. 
  5. Garnish with the fine green tops of the fennel bulb.