Fresh Fennel is a little jewel to include in your garden. The fragrant green fronds create a rich green pesto, another little jewel from the Bijouxs kitchen.
FENNEL IN THE GARDEN
I have always included fennel in my gardens, even now in my tiny garden at my bungalow up the Central Coast. I was gifted a large fennel plant from a neighbor’s garden. Fennel bulbs multiple, so my neighbors dug up a large clump of bulbs to share. Turns out fennel is fussy about a transplant, there is a long tap root and you really have to keep if watered during its adjustment time. I cut back the fronds and planted in rich planting mix, after a few months my fennel is thriving.
FENNEL IN THE KITCHEN
I have used the bulbs in a variety of recipes, cooked and raw in salads. Fennel has a mild anise/licorice taste. You will see many times fennel a part of Italian cuisine. The bulbs can be braised, with cream and cheese, also roasted and put into salads and pasta. One of my favorites is this Blood Orange, Fennel & Radicchio Salad. Thinly sliced fennel adds the crisp crunch to the beautiful salad made colorful with rich hues from Blood Oranges.
So, what to do with all the luxuriant fronds that accompany the fennel plant? What came to mind was a pesto, which I have made with greens other than basil. After a checking the internet I discovered that you can basically just substitute fennel fronds in place of the basil-so simple. Many times, if I do not have pine nuts, I swap out walnuts in my pesto, as I did in this recipe. I used the basic ratios of my original basil pesto recipe.
There are of course many ways to use the pesto, just as you would use basil pesto. I liked this pesto as a dip for a steamed artichoke or spread on a sandwich or tossed with pasta. Fennel a little garden jewel.
As always, enjoy. B