Fennel and Italian Cuisine

Few countries love fennel as much as Italy. Translated as finocchio in Italian, the perennial herb is routinely found on winter menus throughout the country. Its unique, licorice-esque flavor can bring sweetness and clarity to a plethora of dishes whether served raw or cooked. Put your palate to the test and try out these Italian favorites.

Parmesan Crusted Fennel

Craving an authentic side dish? Try coating your fennel in breadcrumbs and roasting with a layer of parmesan and olive oil! Using breadcrumbs can help maintain the crispness that is often lost when you cook fennel, without sacrificing the gentle flavor profile of your vegetable. When slicing, we’d recommend using thick wedges in your dish.

Fennel Soup

For a simple, heartier take on a fennel main course, take a dip in the rich tradition of Italian soups. While there are numerous ways to approach fennel soup, we enjoy the straightforward combination of fennel bulbs and vegetable stock. In terms of seasoning, a little saffron and thyme can go a long way!

  • Pro Tip: Don’t let the fronds go to waste! When creating your in-house vegetable stock, be sure to use any fronds that you don’t have reserved for garnish or pesto.

Fennel Pasta Sauce

Looking for a way to amp up a simple tomato sauce? Consider adding fennel! It actually can add cooling flavors to an otherwise spicy dish. Be aware that adding fennel to sauce can often thicken up your sauce. Additionally, fennel based tomato sauces pair wonderfully with seafood.

Fennel Salad

Raw fennel adds wonderful layers of crunch and flavor into any classic salad. We’d recommend pairing your fennel with another heavyweight of Italian cooking, radicchio, and dressing in a bold citrus vinaigrette to craft an intricate flavor profile.

  • Pro Tip: Want to add some extra texture? Adding chopped pine nuts, walnuts, or almonds to your salad is a great way to focus on the inherent crunch of your fennel.

Fennel Ravioli

Waste-conscious chefs will be delighted to know that both fennel bulbs and fronds work wonderfully in a vegetarian ravioli! Caramelizing the bulbs alongside onions creates a beautiful topping for cheese ravioli, that is only topped in presentation by adding the fronds for garnish. If you decide to go with a meat based dish, we’d recommend using pork for a mixture of textures.

Fennel Pesto

Fresh pesto is one of the simple pleasures in life, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t have a complex flavor profile. By combining your fennel fronds with a simple mixture of olive oil, nuts, and lemon juice in a food processor, you can create a pesto that allows the strong anise flavor of raw fennel to shine! This pesto is delicious on everything from pasta to sandwiches, so don’t be afraid to get creative!