Penne with Fennel Frond Pesto

Many times, the fennel fronds are left over when preparing recipes.  This recipe puts them to good use in this pesto that, at first glance, looks like the more common basil pesto. The taste is not unlike basil pesto, in that it has garlic, olive oil, nuts and parmesan cheese. But the fennel fronds have a fresh, green, and lightly anise-scented flavor that distinguishes it from the richly perfumed taste of basil.  When I have fennel at home, I get the most out of it by preparing the bulb one day (I love it roasted) and making the pesto out of the fronds on another day. You’ll have enough pesto left over from this pasta recipe to put in sandwiches or to brush onto some grilled fish.

Makes 4 servings, plus leftover pesto            Preparation time: 30 minutes

1/3 cup pistachios, toasted

1-2 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped

½ cup freshly grated Parmesan

1 teaspoon salt, plus more for pasta water

Ground black pepper, to taste

4-5 mint leaves, torn (optional)

2 cups lightly packed fennel fronds (usually from 2 fennel bulbs with a good amount of fronds on them)

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

juice of ½ lemon, or to taste

1 pound penne pasta

1 cup frozen peas

Put the pistachios, garlic, cheese, salt, and pepper in a food processor. Pulse a few times to grind slightly.  Add fennel and mint, if using, to the food processor. With the motor running, drizzle in the olive oil until the mixture is reduced to a paste and has a spreadable, but not greasy consistency. Taste and add salt if necessary. Squeeze in a little bit of lemon juice to taste.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Salt the water generously and cook the pasta until al dente. While the pasta is cooking, set up a colander in the sink and put the frozen peas in it. (If you have fresh peas, by all means use them. You can add them to the boiling water in the last few minutes of cooking the pasta.)  When the pasta is done, drain the pasta in the colander. Return the pasta, along with the peas, into the pot. Stir in the pesto until pasta is lightly coated and flavorful. Squeeze in a little lemon juice, to taste.  Serve hot or at room temperature.

Emerald City Salad

This colorful salad is inspired by the beautiful deli salad at Puget Consumer’s Co-op, Seattle’s beloved chain of natural foods grocery stores.  It is so popular that I have filled many classes with the mere mention that I would be demonstrating how to make this salad.

2 ¼ c. water or stock                                                        1 Tbsp. butter

1 tsp. sea salt                                                                  1 c. wild rice ( black – 1/2” long)

Bring water or stock to a boil.  Add butter, ½ tsp. of salt and all the rice.  Bring to boil again, cover, lower heat and simmer 60-65 min.  Check to see that all water is absorbed by tipping the pan to one side.

¼ c. lemon juice                                                              ¼ c. olive oil

1 clove garlic, mince                                                         ½ c. chopped fennel bulb, core removed

½ of a red or yellow pepper, diced                                       ½ c. chopped red cabbage

½ c. chopped Italian parsley

2 c. very finely chopped dark leafy greens (6-7 leaves of chard, kale, or collards)

Salt and pepper to taste                                                    Pecorino or Gorgonzola cheese (optional)

Combine lemon juice, olive oil, garlic and remaining ½ tsp. of salt in large serving bowl.  Add fennel, red pepper, cabbage, parsley and then the greens.  Once rice is fully cooked, cool until it quits steaming but is still warm, and then spread like a blanket on top of the greens.  When the rice cools to room temperature, toss rice, vegetables and dressing together.  Taste the salad and adjust seasonings, some extra salt and/or lemon may be required.  Garnish with cheese if desired.  Preparation Time: 1 hour for wild rice, 20 min. for salad.  Serves 6-8.

Fennel and Walnut Cranberry Sauce

1 (12-ounce) bag frozen cranberries

2 small heads fennel, cut into small dice

½ c. granulated sugar (or honey)

½ c. water

¼ c. golden raisins, also known as sultanas

1/3 c. toasted walnuts, finely chopped

Juice of 1 medium orange (about 1/3 c.)

Zest of 1 medium orange (about 2 tsp.)

Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium heat and stir until sugar is dissolved, about 2 minutes.  Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, then reduce heat to low and simmer until thickened, cranberries are beginning to fall apart, and fennel is tender, about 15 min.  Let cool slightly, and serve at room temperature or cold.  Outpost Exchange Nov 2009.

Roasted Fennel

2 fennel bulbs (thick base of stalk), stalks cut off, bulbs halved lengthwise, then cut lengthwise in 1-inch thick pieces

Olive oil

Balsamic vinegar

Salt to taste

Preheat oven to 400°F. Rub just enough olive oil over the fennel to coat. Sprinkle on some balsamic vinegar, also to coat. Line baking dish with aluminum foil. Lay out the pieces of fennel and roast for 30-40 minutes, or until the fennel is cooked through and beginning to caramelize.  Yield: Serves 4.

Penne with Fennel Frond Pesto

Makes: 4 servings, plus leftover pesto Preparation time: 30 minutes

1/3 cup pistachios

toasted 1-2 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped

½ cup freshly grated Parmesan

1 teaspoon salt, plus more for pasta water

Ground black pepper, to taste

4-5 mint leaves, torn (optional)

2 cups lightly packed fennel fronds (usually from 2 fennel bulbs with a good amount of fronds on them)

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

juice of ½ lemon, or to taste

1   pound penne pasta

1 cup frozen peas

Put the pistachios, garlic, cheese, salt, and pepper in a food processor. Pulse a few times to grind slightly. Add fennel and mint, if using, to the food processor. With the motor running, drizzle in the olive oil until the mixture is reduced to a paste and has a spreadable, but not greasy consistency. Taste and add salt if necessary. Squeeze in a little bit of lemon juice to taste. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Salt the water generously and cook the pasta until al dente. While the pasta is cooking, set up a colander in the sink and put the frozen peas in it. (If you have fresh peas, by all means use them. You can add them to the boiling water in the last few minutes of cooking the pasta.) When the pasta is done, drain the pasta in the colander. Return the pasta, along with the peas, into the pot. Stir in the pesto until pasta is lightly coated and flavorful. Squeeze in a little lemon juice, to taste. Serve hot or at room temperature. Found at http://www.recipeinterrupted.com