Fennel pesto

In last week’s garden post, I mentioned Matthew’s biodiversity micro-grant award to grow celeriac and paw paws. However, he actually proposed growing three items, not two, with fennel being the third item.

Poor little fennel felt a bit left out after my omission, so today he’s getting his very own post.

If you’ve bought fennel at the grocery store, you probably got something that looked like this:

Fennel (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mostly bulb, some stalk, and perhaps a spattering of feathery fronds.

Like a lot of supermarket produce, it looks rather different than the straight-from-the-garden version:

Our fennel (June 2011)

See all the featheriness on top?  The fronds do not keep nearly as well as the bulb, hence the missing top half on most grocery store fennel.

Though this year’s crop is nowhere near that size, we harvested a couple of bulbs for early eating (also making room for the remaining plants to grow larger).  After roasting the bulb, we were left with a lot of fronds, which, I’ll admit, sat in the fridge for quite a few days.

They were at the “use it or toss it to make room for other things” stage.  In Stacy’s recent post about CSA membership, the discussion turned to how to use everything that’s part of the weekly produce delivery.

I hate to waste food, so I chopped the fennel fronds and created a twist on the traditional basil pesto.   If you’re lucky enough to pick up a fresh, locally grown fennel bulb at the farmers’ market or receive one as part of a CSA box, you can make use of the flavorful fronds with this recipe.

Fennel pesto

Recipe by Melissa

1-2 c. chopped fennel fronds and stalks
3/4 c. olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1/4 t. salt
1/4 c. pistachios (I used roasted & salted)
Opt. 1 T. lemon juice, or to taste*

Add all ingredients to blender or food processor and process until desired smoothness.

Serving Suggestions

  • Stir into a grain, protein, veggie dish.  I combined cooked couscous, rice, and lentils with chopped raw carrots, summer squash, and kohl rabbi.  Mix in the fennel pesto, adjust salt as needed, and you have a quick, easy meal.
  • Add extra lemon juice (and perhaps a bit of water) to create a tasty salad dressing.  If you still have the fennel bulb, make a salad with a bed of greens, roasted fennel and/or thin slices of raw fennel,
    pistachios, and olives.
  • Use any way that you would use basil pesto, e.g., on top of pasta, as a pizza sauce, etc.
  • Spread onto bread for a simple appetizer or as a sandwich ingredient.

*I didn’t add lemon juice in my original recipe, but  it would be a nice addition.

Related post: Monumental fennel (with recipe for roasted fennel)

Since today is Bike to Work Day, here’s my post from BtW Day last year, when I was 32 weeks pregnant: Finally Bike Somewhere Day.


  1. Tracy says:

    Yum!!! Sounds awesome to me. I do similar things, but sometimes my ideas are not as awesome as this. For example, sage blossom butter with a bit of honey spread on fresh homemade bread = yummy. On the other hand, braised carrot tops = husband who asks to not have that one again…

  2. Erica I says:

    Hey Melissa! I am wondering if you do a post or just Answer some questions abOut deep freezers. First, is it more beneficial to get a deep freezer over a second refrigerator? Second, what’s a good price to pay for a used one? And lastly, if we were going to buy off Craigslist, what would be some good things to look for?

    Thanks so much! I read each blog post and always look forward to the next.

  3. Clay says:

    Fennel doesn’t work so well in a mortar and pestle. I added plenty of spinach (because I had it) and it improved the consistency.

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