Fennel is a vegetable that doesn’t make its way into the market basket often enough.
Its mild licorice flavour makes it a great addition to anything seafood-related and it’s delicious served raw as part of a veggie tray.
For me, one of the best parts of this vegetable are the delicate fronds that are part of the stalks of the plant.
If you are lucky enough to spot fennel before it’s been trimmed at the market, often the amount of these feathery fronds is substantial. they are delicious chopped and put in a salad and make a fantastic pesto.
My recipe for fennel pesto is ideal to serve with pasta and shrimp for a relatively easy special occasion, summer meal.
PASTA WITH FENNEL, PESTO AND SHRIMP
2 Tbsp. (25 ml) extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, diced
1/2 fennel bulb, finely sliced
Pesto (recipe below)
1 lb. (500 g) long pasta of your choice
1/2 lb. (250 g) large shrimp, peeled and deveined
freshly cracked pepper
additional grated Parmesan (optional)
Heat olive oil in large saute pan over medium heat. add onion and cook until soft. add fennel and cook until tender.
Stir in pesto and reduce heat to low.
Bring large pot of water to boil.
When water is boiling, add 2 heaping spoonfuls of salt and pasta. When the pasta is ½ of the way through recommended cooking time, add shrimp to saute pan with fennel/pesto mixture. Increase heat to high and cook, stirring until shrimp are cooked through.
When pasta is al dente, reserve some of pasta water before draining pasta. Add pasta to saute pan and toss well. If it seems to dry, add some of reserved pasta water.
Season with freshly cracked pepper and salt if needed.
Transfer to large, warmed pasta bowl.
Serve with additional cheese (optional).
1 1/2 cups (375 ml) fennel fronds
1 cup (250 ml) spinach
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup (50 ml) slivered almonds
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup (125 ml) extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Place fennel fronds, spinach, garlic, almonds and Parmesan cheese in bowl of food processor. Process until smooth.
With machine running, add olive oil through feed tube until mixture is smooth.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Refrigerate until ready to use.
Editor’s note: Back by popular demand, the Londoner is reprinting a selection of Jill Wilcox’s recipes. This one was originally published July 7, 2018. Enjoy!