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Fennel Pesto recipe

Fennel Pesto recipe

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I think the strong and unique flavour of fennel is best enjoyed in uncomplicated dishes such as a fresh fennel pesto that can be enjoyed with pasta or simply with fresh bread or crackers. You can use the fennel bulb if it's sold without the leaves - if so use the whole bulb for this recipe

10 people made this

IngredientsMakes: 500 g

  • 100g fennel leaves
  • 200-300ml olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 100g Parmesan cheese (or any strong cheese, as long as it's not too salty)

MethodPrep:15min ›Ready in:15min

  1. Simply place all ingredients in an electric food processor and blitz it until you have a paste. Easy! Amounts will depend on individual tastes; being a little health conscious I added more fennel then instructed though if you prefer a creamier dip then let the cheese flow!
  2. The pesto can be either stirred into cooked, drained pasta and served immediately, or eat it as you would any dip (with wine and crackers…). It can also be stored in the fridge for a few days – simply add more oil if it gets dry.


A lesson I've learnt is to work with what you’ve got, with what's in season. Once you know what role each ingredient plays within the flavour of a recipe you can change, adjust and tweak the recipe to adapt to seasonal availability. For example the fennel pesto easily becomes the more traditional basil pesto or a rocket pesto depending on what ingredients are the freshest. If its spring (fennel), summer (basil or spinach pesto) or all year round (rocket grows during all seasons).

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Fennel frond pesto recipe from The Zero-Waste Chef cookbook

By Eat North

A sustainable lifestyle starts in the kitchen. Anne-Marie Bonneau's brand new cookbook The Zero-Waste Chef hits bookstore shelves on April 13 and it promises to motivate you to get creative with your cooking and make your ingredients go further than you've ever thought possible.

The Canadian-born, San Francisco-dwelling food blogger and authour shows us how reducing our waste not only benefits the planet, but will also satisfy our taste buds, improve our well-being, and boost our bank accounts. With flavourful recipes and a few simple tips, Bonneau's new book can help us all become responsible home cooks.

"At my farmers’ market, a couple of vendors give away fennel stalks and fronds. Most fennel buyers want the stalks and fronds lopped off, nipping what-on-earth-do-I-do-with-this-stuff guilt in the bulb. So, I get one of the main parts of this pesto for free—the wispy fronds. However, if this cookbook sells so well that it drives up the price of fennel fronds, I apologize," says Bonneau in the introduction to this recipe for homemade pasta and pesto.

"Although I have no tips on how or where to find flour for free, I can save you a lot of money on expensive tools to make pasta. Homemade pasta does turn out beautifully when you run the dough through a pasta machine, but if you don’t have one, then a work surface, a knife, and a rolling pin will suffice. And if you have a clean wine bottle, the rolling pin becomes optional, Chef MacGyver."

Fennel frond pesto

Toast the raw nuts in the oven at 350°F for 5 minutes and stir. Toast for another 3 to 5 minutes, until fragrant but not dark.

Place the toasted nuts, garlic, fennel fronds, parsley, and salt in a food processor. Pulse to make a paste. Scrape down the sides of the food processor if necessary.

With the processor running, stream in the oil in a slow trickle, until the pesto is well blended. Transfer to a large serving bowl. (If not using immediately, refrigerate or freeze in a wide-mouth jar).

(Author's note: The pesto recipe works well with kale stems also. Replace the fennel fronds with 1 cup of 1⁄2-inch pieces of kale stems.)

Simple homemade pasta

Place the semolina in a large bowl and make a well in the center. Pour in the hot water. (Alternatively, you can make this directly on your work surface. For a beginner, you may prefer to use a bowl).

With a fork, incorporate the flour from the edges of the well into the water. Continue until you’ve combined all the flour and water and have formed a crumbly dough.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. The bowl will likely contain enough unincorporated flour that you won’t need more on your work surface. Knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic. It should spring back after you make an indentation in it with your thumb. If it doesn’t spring back, keep kneading it. This can take about 10 minutes. Cover with a clean dish towel and let rest for 20 to 30 minutes.

Divide the dough into 2 equal portions smaller portions are easier to work with. Lightly dust the work surface with semolina, if necessary, as you roll out each piece of the dough to about 1/8 inch thick.

Dust the dough with semolina. Roll each piece of the dough up into a very loose tube. You will be slicing noodles from these tubes, so you don’t want it too tightly wound and stuck together. Cut 1/4-inch-wide noodles from each roll.

Add the salt to a large pot of water and bring to a boil. Add the noodles and cook until tender, about 2 minutes. Reserve at least 1/3 cup of the pasta cooking water. Drain the pasta in a colander.

Whisk the saved pasta cooking water into the bowl with the pesto. Blend and toss the pasta in the pesto and serve.

Ingredients Needed

Just like any other pesto, simple and fresh (which is also like all of our recipe here).

  • Fennel Fronds - Just the frilly green leafy parts, but leave those thicker stalks.
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil - This is when you want to have a good, high-quality oil, like you were making a vinaigrette.
  • Fresh Lemon Juice - Bottled is of course fine, too.
  • Nut - A traditional pesto uses pine nuts, but I love using different nuts in my pesto, like almonds, hazelnuts, and for this pesto, walnuts. It's fun to switch up the different nuts in different pestos to get a slight variation each time!
  • Salt and Pepper - To taste.

Now I know what you're thinking. No garlic?! I know, the horror! But actually, I love this pesto without it because I think that the garlic can quickly overpower the sweet delicate anise. Sometimes I'll add just a pinch of garlic powder, but truly, I love this pesto without it to really let the anise flavor shine.

Fennel Frond Pesto

The feathery and beautiful fennel fronds can be eaten raw in salads, juiced, or turned into a flavorful pesto!

Place all ingredients in a food processor and process until you get a paste.

To toast pine nuts, lay them in a single layer on a baking tray and bake in a 350 oven for 5-7 minutes until golden brown. Can also do in a dry, cast iron skillet for a few minutes, just keep a close eye or they might burn.

Store in the fridge or freezer. Add a layer of plastic wrap to the top of the pesto before placing on the storage container's lid and press it tightly against the surface of the pesto-- helps prevent oxidization.

Heat pan on medium heat and add four tablespoons of the pesto constantly stirring until softened.

Add 1/2 cup peas or some broad beans and the pasta and 1/2 cup of the pasta water and stir.

Add more pasta water if necessary. Season with salt and pepper and extra reggiano cheese, and a squeeze of lemon juice (or finely zested peel.)

A note on equipment…

You’ll ideally make this in a food processor to get a paste-like texture (I have this one and love it, if you’re in the market for one). But if you don’t have one you can still make it. A good blender will do the trick, or just chop up the fennel fronds, garlic, and nuts as finely as you can, then mix with the salt, olive oil and cheese (if using). It will be a little chunkier this way, but still delicious.

So if you’re a fan of basil pesto and are lucky enough to find fennel bulb with plenty of fronds, give this fennel pesto a try. Let me know what you think of it, and how you use it! Comment below or on social media (I’m on Facebook at Instagram) – I’d love to hear from you!


1) Roughly chop 2 cloves of garlic and add them to a food processor with 1/2 teaspoon Back to Organic Bloody Mary Himalayan salt. Pulse a couple times to mince the garlic.

2) Add the 1/2 cup of pine nuts and chop until fine. Pulse with 1/2 cup of grated parmesan cheese if using.
3) Add 1 cup of fennel fronds and 1/4 cup of EVOO.
4) Blend until smooth.

The pesto without cheese goes beautifully with fish or seafood. Try the Parmesan Fennel Frond Pesto tossed in pasta or a meatball dish. Serve as a dip with carrots, bell pepper slices, and crackers. Enjoy!

15 Minutes Fettucine in Fennel Frond Pesto

Published: May 27, 2016 Modified: Apr 6, 2020 By Sujata Shukla This blog generates income via ads. This post may contain affiliate links. PepperOnPizza may earn a commission for purchases made after clicking these links. View our disclosure policy for details

This Fennel Frond Pesto Pasta is now on my go to list of quick dinners to put together. It actually took less than 15 minutes from start to finish! Of course the pasta was a quick cooking one, and the home made pesto was already available, but still its lovely to be able to put together a delicious meal with such little effort! Making the pesto would have taken another 10 minutes or so.

Fettucine in Fennel Frond Pesto

I had this box of fettucine shaped into little rolls of ribbon, and I thought they would go well with a fresh pesto. The Fennel which had been delivered recently by First Agro Farms (zero pesticide vegetables and greens supplied right to my door) had an abundant head of fronds. More like a bush than a head, actually. I had used most of the fronds to make 2 jars of pesto, with pine nuts and with my homemade basil oil. You can imagine the flavours - basil, olive oil, fennel, pine nuts, all worked together into a unique taste. Making Fennel Frond Pesto Pasta was naturally the next step. Lush fronds of fennel

You could of course make this Fennel Frond Pesto pasta with penne or any other pasta, and substitute the fennel frond pesto for another of your choice. Or throw in some sun dried tomato or sauté mushrooms instead of the zucchini. Add chilli flakes in the end. The pasta would adapt to all this. I would suggest however that less is more in this case, let the pesto rule, and any other ingredient be added only to give another texture to the dish.

As I have said in the recipe below, start the pasta cooking in its pot, and while it is boiling away, quickly put together all the other ingredients, so that everything is ready by the time you have drained the cooked pasta, and you just have to toss it all together.If you are making pesto afresh, add 5 - 10 minutes to the time required.

Here are the links to my recipes on this blog, for Fennel Frond Pesto and for Home made Basil oil. The Basil oil was used in making the pesto. If you want to use a simple basil pesto, I have given the link for that too!


For the soup

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Cut the tomatoes into quarters, place in a deep baking dish and sprinkle with the sugar.
Cut the fennel and onions in half, then slice and place together on a baking tray with the unpeeled garlic. Drizzle the vegetables with extra virgin olive oil, season with salt and pepper and place in the oven to roast. The fennel and onions will take about 30–40 minutes and the tomatoes 45–55 minutes.

Once cooked, remove the skins from the tomatoes and squeeze the garlic out of its skin discard the skins. Puree all the vegetables, then place in a saucepan with the stock and bring to the boil.
When the soup begins to boil add the quinoa grain, reduce the heat, cover, and cook on low heat for 15–20 minutes. Meanwhile make the pesto.

For the pesto

Blend all the ingredients together. Remove the soup from the heat and stir in the pesto. Adjust the seasoning and serve with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil. Alternatively, you can serve the soup as is with a dollop of pesto.

Fennel pasta

When it comes to quick, impromptu meals, pasta is a true life saver! It is versatile, filling, comes together quickly and always tastes good.

And no, I don’t agree with the opinion that it’s an unhealthy thing to eat – especially when prepared without lashings of butter, heaps of Parmesan or buckets of cream – not that I’ve ever been a fan of creamy pasta sauces anyway.

Take this simple fennel pasta, for example. Apart from charred fennel, it gets its flavour from sweet Greek tomatoes, capers, olives and a handful spices. It’s vibrant and super tasty. It’s finished with some fresh parsley and toasted pine nuts for an extra crunch.

Yes, I did use some olive oil to bring the sauce together but no more than a vinaigrette-style salad dressing would call for so I don’t know about you, but I eat pasta like this regularly and do not beat myself up about it at all.

PS: If you do make this fennel pasta, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram (#lazycatkitchen). I love seeing your take on my recipes.

Recipe Summary

  • 1 fennel bulb (12 ounces), cut into 3/4-inch wedges, 1 tablespoon fronds reserved for garnish
  • 1 can whole artichoke hearts in water (13.75 ounces), drained, patted dry, and cut in half lengthwise
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Arrange fennel and artichokes on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons oil, and season with salt and pepper. Roast vegetables until caramelized on both sides, about 35 minutes, tossing after 20 minutes.

Drizzle with remaining oil and the lemon juice. Add parsley, and toss to combine. Garnish with fennel fronds.

Watch the video: Σπαγγέτι με Πέστο alla Genovese. Άκης Πετρετζίκης


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