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Fennel pollen is the (nutrient-dense) cult fave condiment your favorite dishes are missing


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Photo: Getty Images/Eva Katalin

Anyone who grows fennel definitely gets their money’s worth. The entirely-edible plant has onion-like bulbs that grow underground and celery-esque stalks that shoot up to six feet tall above the surface, but the most prized (and often overlooked) part of the plant? Its bright yellow flowers—AKA its pollen—that makes dishes extra fancy and extra delicious.

Fennel pollen is a herb commonly used in Italian cooking, and you’ve probably driven past fields of it without even realizing: While it’s native to Italy, it grows wild across the west coast of the United States.

“Being a pollen, it contains a high content of protein, enzymes, and minerals.” —Sarah Britton of My New Roots

And Sarah Britton, the holistic nutritionist behind My New Roots, is an especially big fan. The yellow dust can potentially offer up some health benefits—”being a pollen, it contains a high content of protein, enzymes, and minerals,” she says—but since you only need such small amounts, the nutritional value isn’t the main reason it’s so beloved. The real draw is the uniqueness in its flavor. “It has a slightly licorice-y, sweet, and a bit florally taste. Not everyone likes the taste of licorice. For those who do, though, it’s delicious,” notes Britton.

For the licorice lovers of the world—it’s a divisive flavor, so if you’re anti, this isn’t for you—using fennel pollen is easy: You simply sprinkle it on your favorite meals. “It’s delicious on both sweet and savory dishes, whether that’s breakfast porridge and pancakes or as a topping on salads and soups with other herbs, like basil and parsley,” she tells me. And although you can buy it, it’s also easy to collect yourself—something Britton does on the regular. “The farmers’ market will likely be the best place to find it, but if you’re growing it yourself, let one or two of your plants bolt and then just rub the flowers between your fingers,” she says.

All it takes is a quick dusting to up the flavor of your food. Then the finished product will look so fancy that it’d be hard not to snap a picture for your ‘gram.

Here’s the gross reason you should freeze your spices before storing them in your pantry. Or find out why nutmeg has joined the ranks of science-approved curative spices.

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