For These Intrepid Gardeners, Every Seed Counts

You can Grow Your Own Way. All spring and summer, we’re playing in the vegetable garden; join us for step-by-step guides, highly recommended tools, backyard tours, juicy-ripe recipes, and then some. Let’s get our hands dirty.

“Badenjan Sesame” eggpl…

You can Grow Your Own Way. All spring and summer, we’re playing in the vegetable garden; join us for step-by-step guides, highly recommended tools, backyard tours, juicy-ripe recipes, and then some. Let’s get our hands dirty.


“Badenjan Sesame” eggplant from Kandahar; black Hungarian' hot pepper from Kiskenfelegyhaza, Hungary; tomato from Isfahan, Iran—combing through the seed catalog on the Experimental Farm Network website is like getting a crash course in genetic seed diversity. Since its inception in 2013, EFN has been on a mission to preserve and expand biodiversity in crops. Nathan Kleinman and Dusty Hinzco, who first met via the Occupy Wall Street movement, co-founded the nonprofit cooperative to facilitate collaboration in plant breeding. For them, seeds aren’t just a way to put food on the table, they support displaced communities, promote food justice, and ensure a better future for all.

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Fennel Is, Without a Doubt, Our Favorite Spring Herb

Every week we get Down & Dirty, in which we break down our favorite unique seasonal fruits, vegetables, and more.
 

This week we’ve got fronds on the brain—fennel fronds, that is. You can find fresh fennel year round, but it reall…

Every week we get Down & Dirty, in which we break down our favorite unique seasonal fruits, vegetables, and more.
 
This week we’ve got fronds on the brain—fennel fronds, that is. You can find fresh fennel year round, but it really peaks during spring. Once you get your hands on fennel, you’ll probably be taken by the pleasant, anise-like aroma and then immediately think to yourself: “Okay…but what do I do with this?” Because as cool as fennel is to look at, and as lovely as it smells, it’s not the most common herb to cook with. Adding crushed fennel seeds to meatballs? Duh! But roasted fresh fennel wedges as part of a weeknight meal? Can’t say that’s exactly in my repertoire. 
 
So if you want to start cooking with fennel, we’ll go over what to look for when selecting fennel, how to store it, and how to use every part of the plant from bulb to stalk to fronds—and more! Licorice haters fear not, there might be hope for you and fennel after all.
 

What to Look For

First things first: select small to medium-sized white fennel bulbs that are heavy and firm with bright green feathery fronds. Avoid bulbs that are really large, have moist spots, or appear shriveled and dried out. If there are brown spots, leave the fennel on the shelf. Bulbs and stalks should be free of cracks, splits, and any discoloration or bruising.
 
The fennel you buy at the market is also known as bulb fennel, Florence fennel, or finocchio, though due to its similar flavor, it sometimes gets confused with anise. Fact: anise is an entirely different plant, but the two do come together to flavor absinthe. (Think about that the next time you sip one of these.) 
 
As for fennel seeds, you’ll find those with other dried spices. For reference, they’re a little bit bigger than chia seeds but smaller than cardamom pods. You can use them whole or crush them in a mortar and pestle so they’re more powder-like, removing some of the texture while highlighting their pungent earthy flavor.
 

How to Store Fennel

Similar to carrots, if you’re storing fennel in the fridge, you’ll want to separate the stalks from the bulb and store the two parts separately in plastic bags. Because of the delicate nature of the fronds, they tend to go bad more quickly than the bulbs. For a non-plastic-encased option, try storing fennel upright in a cup of water on the counter like a bouquet of flowers. Either way, try to use your fennel within a few days—any more than that, and it starts to lose flavor.
 

Root-to-Stem Dining

Like celery, the entire fennel plant can be consumed—there’s a ton of flavor in every part of it. Here's how to make the most of every last bit.
 

Bulb 

If you’re still craving comfort foods, try roasted fennel on a flatbread, paired with celery in a gratin, or with braised potatoes. To roast fennel, cut the bulbs lengthwise, cut out the core, and slice it as thin or thick as you like. Toss the fennel with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roast in a 425℉ over for 25 to 30 minutes. Spring can’t come fast enough? Then use your fennel bulb in a Greek salad or a shaved salad with celery. If you're not a fan of licorice, ease yourself into fennel's charms by roasting it. Pair it with couscous, or blend it into this white bean dip; roasting fennel will bring out its sweetness and soften its flavor.

Stalks

According to The Barbeque! Bible, you can dry fennel stalks in the oven to preserve them. Just remove all fronds, and arrange the stalks in one layer on a baking sheet. Bake them at 200°F for 3 hours, then turn off the heat and let them hang out in the oven overnight to finish drying. Mark Bittman suggests grilling fish on the stalks (keep the fronds attached for this one, or use your just-dried stalks), and they can also be used to make broths, infused oils, or in place of celery in dishes.
 

Fronds

Chop up the fronds and use them like you would other fresh herbs. They're lovely in a pesto, an egg or potato salad, or as a garnish, like on this soup.
 

Seeds

You’re probably familiar with seeing fennel seeds in sausages and stews (those “seeds” are actually fruits, but everyone refers to them as seeds). Aside from using them in crackers or a genius cabbage recipe, their subtle licorice flavor and nuttiness can even serve as a zippy breath freshener!
 

Pollen

It may be a little more elusive, but fennel pollen has some diehard fans. It's been said that “If angels sprinkled a spice from their wings, this would be it.” Sold yet? The pollen can be sprinkled on meat and fish, paired with mushrooms, or even with ice cream. Look for it in specialty stores or online, or if you have fennel in your garden, you can let it go to seed and collect your own: be patient, forgo harvesting the bulbs, and you'll be rewarded with sunny yellow pollen-filled flowers. If you want to be truly wild, go foraging.

There are so many more ways you can use fennel and all of its parts. What's your favorite way to eat it?

This article was updated in April 2022 by our editors, who wanted to show off their love for fennel again.

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Redefining Identity, One Asian American Dish at a Time

In one of his popular YouTube videos for NYT Cooking, Eric Kim introduces his Sheet-Pan Bibimbap as “really chill.” Drawing inspiration from the simplicity of his family’s preferred midnight snack, Kim gives the ultimate credit to his mother’s techniqu…

In one of his popular YouTube videos for NYT Cooking, Eric Kim introduces his Sheet-Pan Bibimbap as “really chill.” Drawing inspiration from the simplicity of his family’s preferred midnight snack, Kim gives the ultimate credit to his mother’s techniques before shyly admitting she now uses his recipe. The vegetables are roasted in olive oil, cooked rice is crisped on a hot sheet pan to emulate the effects of a dolsot. The result mimics a traditional bibimbap—though for a dish that varies from family to family, what is traditional?—and meets the simple aesthetics and unpretentious elegance that so many crave today. For me, there’s something validating about the bulk of Kim’s recipes. Despite not having my own midnight bibimbap memories (I’m Indian American), his food feels representative, because it is distinctly Asian American.

To consider an “Asian American” cuisine category when the entire concept of “Asian America” is up for debate could seem hypocritical. The Loneliest Americans author Jay Caspian Kang has devoted a book and several essays arguing against the idea, as the fast-growing group of more than 20 million who make up this identity differ in race, socioeconomic standing, and cultural norms. Kang argues the term is only used by “upwardly mobile professionals who enter mostly white middle-class spaces.” If he is correct, perhaps the term becomes even more apt when it comes to food, because this cuisine is often born out of cultural merging, even assimilation. Consider the nikkei and chifa cuisines of Japanese and Chinese Peruvians; the Gullah cuisine of the South Carolina islands created by West and Central Africans blending techniques of their homelands with the ingredients of the land they were forced to work; even the Tex-Mex food of the borderlands. Food evolves when cultures mingle.

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The Best Place to Feel Lonely Is in a Bagel Shop

In the loneliest time in my life, I spent a lot of time in my local bagel shop. I was living in Baltimore, a new city, and had just gone through a splintering breakup. As a middle school teacher living with two others, I was often surrounded by people….

In the loneliest time in my life, I spent a lot of time in my local bagel shop. I was living in Baltimore, a new city, and had just gone through a splintering breakup. As a middle school teacher living with two others, I was often surrounded by people. And yet I was lonely in my classroom full of students and lonely in my apartment full of roommates. I was lonely in my room at night, where Netflix would accost me with the passive aggressive, “Are you still watching?”

On Sunday mornings at the bagel shop though, being alone never felt so bad. I had my Sundays down to a science. Grabbing my latest book, I drove eight minutes to the bagel store by the water, one of the few routes I had memorized. There, I waited in line while watching for a booth to empty.

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Everything You Need to Know About Taro

Every week we get Down & Dirty, in which we break down our favorite unique seasonal fruits, vegetables, and more.
Today: Get to know a tropical tuber you might have been missing out on. Read More >>

Every week we get Down & Dirty, in which we break down our favorite unique seasonal fruits, vegetables, and more.

Today: Get to know a tropical tuber you might have been missing out on.

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Marjoram Is the Most Underrated Herb, Period

Every week we get Down & Dirty, in which we break down our favorite unique seasonal fruits, vegetables, and more.
Today: We’ve been stocking up on fresh herbs to get our spring fix. Next up, marjoram. Read More >>

Every week we get Down & Dirty, in which we break down our favorite unique seasonal fruits, vegetables, and more.

Today: We've been stocking up on fresh herbs to get our spring fix. Next up, marjoram.

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Those First Post-Birth Meals Are the Most Special—6 Parents Explain Why

In the days after my daughter was born, my husband made for me what I can only describe as the best BLT in all of existence. It was mid-July, and he’d carefully selected a juicy heirloom tomato from the farmer’s market. The bacon was thick and smoky, n…

In the days after my daughter was born, my husband made for me what I can only describe as the best BLT in all of existence. It was mid-July, and he’d carefully selected a juicy heirloom tomato from the farmer’s market. The bacon was thick and smoky, nearly a meal unto itself. The bread? Impossibly crusty, scraping the roof of my mouth in the best kind of way. A generous heap of raw alfalfa sprouts, forbidden for months to my pregnant self, added an herbal crunch, while slivers of avocado lent divine creaminess. A tangy slathering of In-n-Out-inspired “secret sauce” brought it together.

I devoured the whole thing while perched atop my Boppy pillow—I still needed a cushion under my bum at all times—and cried. It was just. So. Good.

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A Theory from the 1980s Could Be the Key to Solving Picky Eating

Welcome to Kids & the Kitchen, our new landing pad for parents who love to cook. Head this way for kid-friendly recipes, helpful tips, and heartwarming stories galore—all from real-life parents and their little ones.

Last year Ellen Kehs, a mom …

Welcome to Kids & the Kitchen, our new landing pad for parents who love to cook. Head this way for kid-friendly recipes, helpful tips, and heartwarming stories galore—all from real-life parents and their little ones.


Last year Ellen Kehs, a mom of three boys all under 10 in Papillion, Nebraska, signed up for an online workshop called “Stress Free Family Eating.” It ended up changing her life—or, at least, her dinner table. Before she took the class last January, Kehs recalls, she heard a constant nightly refrain: “I’m not eating that. Can’t we just have chicken nuggets or cheeseburgers or take-out?” A fight with the youngest would ensue. The middle kid would storm out.

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A Fractured Relationship—& the Kebab That Filled the Cracks

Good food is worth a thousand words—sometimes more. In My Family Recipe, a writer shares the story of a single dish that’s meaningful to them and their loved ones.

Some of my most visceral childhood memories involve going to the butcher’s market wit…

Good food is worth a thousand words—sometimes more. In My Family Recipe, a writer shares the story of a single dish that's meaningful to them and their loved ones.


Some of my most visceral childhood memories involve going to the butcher’s market with my father—dozens of nearly identical shops, each no larger than a service elevator, tightly stacked up against one another like a deck of cards. These excursions usually followed Sunday prayers at our local gurdwara, the beating heart of a bustling Delhi bazaar. Around us, processions of herders displayed their livestock like prized show horses. Lilies curled and crisped under the hot Indian sun. A pack of parched stray dogs found relief in an unlatched water tanker. I would grip my father’s hand tight as the butcher’s blade sliced through the lamb’s neck like butter, wincing at the blood and sinew.

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19 of Our Team’s Absolute Worst Rental Stories

Rent Like You Mean It is a series all about giving our rental spaces a new lease. We’ve rounded up a whole host of refreshing spruce-ups (and cover-ups), impactful DIYs (plus how to get them back to square one when you leave), and peeks at real-life re…

Rent Like You Mean It is a series all about giving our rental spaces a new lease. We’ve rounded up a whole host of refreshing spruce-ups (and cover-ups), impactful DIYs (plus how to get them back to square one when you leave), and peeks at real-life rental transformations. Because a lease should never stop you from having a space that feels like yours—even if it’s only for a year.


Listen, it’s a tough rental world out there. Between callous management companies, unfair laws, and (at best) apathetic landlords, it can often feel like no one’s on your side. As anyone who’s ever rented can tell you, there’s always a grievance—something broke and didn’t get fixed, pests never got fully exterminated, noisy neighbors were never reprimanded, and so on. And while owning a home certainly has its own drawbacks (um, you have to take care of the entire thing… all the time), renting a place to live often feels like the most helpless thing you can do, since basically every decision is up to your land(over)lord.

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