Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Fennel frond pesto

I killed a whole mess of plants the other day.

On purpose.

No, I do not feel good about it.

"Crop thinning," it's called. Vegetable gardeners do it all the time, the good ones do anyway. They yank from the ground perfectly healthy seedlings so that other seedlings, a proper number for the space alloted, may prosper and grow.

I must not be a very good vegetable gardener. For rarely, if ever, do I summon the courage to launch such a killing spree.

I simply don't have the heart.

And so, it is with trepidation (and an ample amount of shame) that I present to you this particular item: A very lovely pesto made with the fronds of scores of baby fennel seedlings that I ripped from their Mother Earth one dark day last week.

It was a simple matter of substituting the fennel fronds for the basil; that's it. The recipe is the same pesto recipe that I have used for a couple decades now, courtesy of Marcella Hazan.

It was delicious, yes, tasting remarkably like a basil pesto, just a bit milder, softer even.

Sadly, I may find myself on another killing spree next year.

"Blender Pesto"
Adapted from Marcella Hazan's "The Classic Italian Cookbook"

2 cups fresh basil leaves (or, in this case, fennel fronds)
1/2 cup olive oil
2 Tbsp. pine nuts (I used walnuts this time)
2 garlic cloves, lightly crushed and peeled
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
2 Tbsp. freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
3 Tbsp. butter, softened to room temperature

Put the basil (or fronds), olive oil, pine nuts (or walnuts), chopped garlic, and salt in the blender and mix at high speed.
When evenly blended pour into a bowl, and beat in the two grated cheeses by hand.
When the cheese has been evenly incorporated with the other ingredients, beat in the softened butter.
Before spooning the pesto over pasta, add a tablespoon or so of the hot pasta water.
When freezing pesto do so without adding the cheese and butter. Add the cheese and butter when it is thawed, just before serving.


Linda said...

Oh what an inventive idea. I rarely use those fennel fronds but this is something novel to do with them - and delicious to boot.

Thomas Henry Strenk said...

Aren't you the sensitive guy!

Ishkabibble said...

I've never seen a pesto recipe that uses butter. Interesting.

Mister Meatball said...

Butter, yeah. And it does make a difference. I've always found Marcella to be reliable. A very sensible cook, she.

Fennel Friday said...

Hi there! We were compiling Fennel and Pasta recipes for Fennel Friday and found you! Brilliant recipe - can't wait to try it and you are featured for this Fennel Friday at!