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What to do with fennel fronds?

My favorite recipes only make use of the bulb, though I remember long ago making a soup that used the fronds (wasn't a big hit with my husband). Any other ideas? I hate putting all that greenery in the compost pile.

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  1. Use them as a herb, as you would any anise-like herb. Another idea is to stuff them into a whole fish, which can then be grilled, roasted, etc. Finally, stuff them into a whole chicken.

    1. String the stalks with a thread and needle and hang them to dry. They can then be used as a bed for roasting fish like monkfish. Or toss them on the coals under grilled whole fish like sea bass or striped bass during the final few minutes of cooking (the smoke flavours the flesh).

      The delicate fronds can be used like fresh dill to flavour vinaigrettes and sauces. Here's a simple sauce for salmon (via Pat Wells): In a saucepan, warm equal quantities of extra-virgin olive oil and lemon juice along with capers and picholine-style green olives. Spoon over steamed, roasted or grilled salmon. Garnish with fennel fronds.

      1. agree with all of the above -- esp a roasting bed for fish (I've always done that with fresh fennel fronds, along with lots of thin sliced onions)

        Then I drizzle the fish with a fennel infused oil. There's a good recipe in Chez Panisse veg book I think - the following is what I do without looking at the recipe . . .

        To make the oil, faintly warm olive oil with fennel fronds, a cut up lemon, a pinch of chili flakes, and crushed whole garlic cloves. Let it meld together for an hour or so, then strain. Season with salt and pepper, use as a drizzle on the cooked fish as well as on the onion/fennel bed you roast the fish on. Keep the rest in the fridge to use again.

        There's alot of Sicilian soups that use fennel, with chopped fennel as a garnish, to make when your husband isn't having dinner with you...

        1. As others have said, they're great for roasting fish. My favorite is to bake a side of salmon on a bed of fennel fronds with a few slices of lemon on top. Bake/Roast at a lowish temp., 300, until done, but not overdone. Fennel imparts a subtle lovely flavor. Garnish with extra chopped up to really bring it out further.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Aaron

            You can also chop them in big long strands and add them into a court-bouillon for poaching fish. I just bring whole fronds in the house, shake and/or rinse the bugs off, and cut them into branches that will just fit into the fish poacher. Add a bottle of cheap dry white, a few half-squoze lemon halves, some crushed garlic and water enough to cover the fish, then boil it for a while. Strain out the solids if you're finicky and poach your fish in that. Awful damn good.

            1. re: Will Owen

              Great recipe but DON'T use cheap wine. I don't know why people use "cheap" wine in recipes. If it doesn't taste good in the glass it won't taste good in the dish.

              1. re: KetchikanPeg

                You're assuming that $ = Quality. It doesn't. You can have a "cheap" $5 Moscofilero from Greece that tastes great and is great with fish and is cheap!

          2. They make a nice garnish for soups, salads and other dishes. As someone mentioned, they are good in salad dressings and sauces. They are also very good mixed with feta cheese.

            1. they are great with pasta, tomatoes and shellfish.

              1 Reply
              1. re: josh L

                second this - one of our standby meals is a can of tuna, some diced tomatoes, chopped olives and chopped fennel fronds over pasta.

              2. You can chop the fronds with lemon zest and kosher salt; use this as a rub for roast pork. (You can add crushed garlic if you want.)

                2 Replies
                1. re: rootlesscosmo

                  I suspect that even with all these uses, you will end up tossing most of the fronds. Especially if you eat more than one bulb a month. I really don't use that much garnish. I do use the stalks along with some of the fronds in stock. For the amount of flavor, the texture of these parts isn't all that great.


                  1. re: paulj

                    True. And I've never figured out any use for the stalks except for compost.

                    When I was a locomotive engineer here in San Francisco I backed my switch engine down a little-used track one warm day and my nostrils were suddenly overwhelmed with the scent of licorice... yup, wild fennel had grown over the tracks and I was choppng it with the wheels. Amazing.

                2. In Beijing I've eaten vegetable dumplings stuffed with chopped fennel fronds, bits of dried tofu, maybe black mushroom? They're delicious.

                  1. There's a new Iron Chef America with fennel as the key ingredient. Both sides made moderate use of the fronds. A challenger carmelized some as part of a dessert presentation. Mario put some in a Greek yogurt dressing.

                    And stalks went into stocks.


                    1. Pick the fronds from the stalks and use them for pesto!!!! It's perfect!~

                      1. Sorry so late
                        I just made PESTO! SOOOOO good and super easy. I used walnuts parm lemon & zest from lemon garlic salt pepper olive oil & a large amount of fennel fern'z. toss in your food prep wizer and bam!
                        I also made an infused fennel oil with all my trimming's (not the bulb. I saved that for a salad.) I added a couple clove's of garlic bring to a boil lower and simmer for a hour or so. pour through a siv in a sanitized bottle cool & store in the frig. It's great on salad's in soups pasta's dressing's on fish or a rub for pork. Nothing go'z to waste around my home.
                        Hope that helped for you in the future.


                        1 Reply
                        1. re: JasmineB

                          I would love to make this pesto. Sounds great. Can I ask if you have a favorite recipe? I am not sure how much to put of everything? (walnuts parm lemon & zest from lemon garlic salt pepper olive oil & a large amount of fennel). Thanks Jasmine!

                        2. simmer the fronds with sliced onions, garlic, carrots, and a bouquet de garnis, then strain and use it when you puree a broccoli soup!

                          1. Hi miss_mia

                            I'm new to fennel; but I just got it from my co-op, so I need to learn. Any chance you'd share one or two of those favorite recipes--especially vegetarian ones (husband is one).

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: mburke58

                              I mostly use fennel raw - sliced thin. It works in various salad combinations. On is with orange, a bit of red onion and garlic, and maybe some olives for contrasting color. I keep the dressing light, mainly oil and vinegar.

                              It can be roasted (quartered) with other vegetables.

                              Flavor is subtle enough that it shouldn't be used in anything complicated.

                              1. re: paulj

                                agreed. I love it raw in a salad sliced thin with orange supremes and beets with a bit of arugula and dressing made from the juice of the orange.

                            2. Chop the stalks and roast them with other root veg- carrots, parsnips, pearl onions.

                              1. If you or yours enjoy sandwiches with lettuce in them, you can substitute fronds for the lettuce. Especially good, imo, with cold turkey, egg salad, or tuna salad

                                1. This is kinda the wrong season since I'm in NZ, but here's a non-soup recipe using fennel fronds and the stalks: http://twospoons.wordpress.com/2011/1...

                                  You can use the fronds as a herb (as previously suggested) and the stalks like celery, but cooking them a little will mellow out the aniseed flavour and bring out a really comforting flavour. From thereon the possibilities are fairly endless!

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: twospoons

                                    exactly! i used the stalks, chopped, in place of celery in tuna salad. We hate celery but love fennel.

                                  2. I have successfully baked the fronds into bread. It looks something like dill and I loved the flavor. Come to think of it, I should do that again soon.

                                    1. Mash 4 garlic cloves and a can of drained and chopped anchovies with some salt and pepper in a mortar and pestle to make a paste. Mix with olive oil and heat in a pan just to warm through. Toss with linguine or spaghetti and finely chopped fennel fronds. Sometimes I top it with a fried or poached egg. Really yummy!

                                      1. I make a killer fennel stock from Deborah Madison's Vegetable Literacy.
                                        Basic recipe
                                        fennel fronds from 2 fennel bulbs
                                        hand full of fresh or dried mushrooms
                                        tomato ends (or a tomato)
                                        onion cut in half or left over onion pieces
                                        1 teaspoon fennel seeds
                                        1-2 leeks (which I rarely have around, so I've never used them)
                                        simmer for an hour and a half or so. I use it to cook rice or quinoa, braise fennel bulbs, or even drink like a savory, warm tea. It's really that delicious!