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Fennel Fronds

What do people do with these things? The most recent Joy of Cooking says "fronds used discretely for seasoning." Does anyone even know what this means?
I love fennel oh so much, and am hoping to find a delicious way to put these beautiful fronds to use.

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  1. You can add the tenderest parts into a salad, or lay them in/around baked fish.

    I have also seen them in one of Marcella Hazan's Sicilian pasta recipes, one that includes pine nuts, currants, saffron, sardines, and a couple other ingredients. If you can get past her endless 'sigh, you can't find the Really Right Variety of the ingredient but if you must try it use this kind' comments, it sounds sort of interesting.

    1. I use fronds for a garnish usually. Others boil it and drink it as a digestive aid. Some use it in soups. Here are two examples using fronds:

      1) Simple garnish in soup ... http://static.flickr.com/2/1989086_63...

      2) A recipe where it's the standout ... http://www.epicureantable.com/tutwild...

      1. you can infuse olive oil with fennel fronds (and lemon rind and black pepper and onion and fennel seed) - you mildly heat the olive oil and keep it looooooow

        then use the oil on baking fish, and on a bed of onions (and, say sliced fennel bulb) to roast the fish
        there's a recipe in Chez Panisse Vegetables, if you need specifics (but it's forgiving in loosely put together combos)

        1. Bake it into bread, once threw a handful into a batch of dough and it tasted wonderful.

          1. Chop, sweat, tie 'em up in a porchetta.

            1. I ate at Mario Batali's restaurant Del Posto, and he had a bunch of delicately sugared fennel fronds as a garnish on one of the dishes that were simply out of this world. I don't even remember what they were garnishing... but I will never forget the taste and texture of those delightful candied fennel fronds. I'm not sure how he did it, but I think he must have dipped the fronds in a sugar solution and let them dry. The sugar coating was very thin and translucent and coated each tiny hairlike branch of the frond like ice on a tree. It was amazing.

              1 Reply
              1. re: busterboye

                Potato salad. Cook potatoes as usual, combine with onion (diced very small), a lot of fennel fronds (also cut small), olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, and lemon juice.

              2. I've used it finely chopped over shrimp on a pizza. The problem with the fronds is that they're very tough and fibrous, so most cooks discard them. But they have good flavor and as long as you chop them finely, they make a good addition to fish and vegetable dishes. There's a classic dish for pasta with sardines which calls for fennel. Paula Wolfert's version of the dish uses only the fronds to replicate the vivid flavor of wild fennel.

                The fronds keep well in the produce drawer of the refrigerator. I have some in mine right now.

                1. Thanks so much for these responses! Everything sounds so delicious. I love fennel so much, and am super psyched to get cooking with the fronds.

                  1. I chop the stemmy bits into inch lengths, toss in olive oil and a little salt and rast them at 400 till done. I use the frondy leafy bits in salads, or toss on roasting potatoes before roasting.

                    1. If you smash the fronds in a mortar and pestle with garlic, salt, and olive oil you get a delicious pesto. I was out of cilantro and dill one day, so used the fronds as an experiment. Shmeared the fennel frond pesto on salmon, and a new dish was born.

                      I've also chopped them fine and put them in salads, as I do with cilantro. They really are delicious.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: venera

                        Second that!!! Pesto is a no brainer and the flavor is very mush like basil pesto. Don't use the the thickest part of the stalks however.

                      2. How about bronze fennel fronds? The plant is red-brown. I think it may be less fragrant and therefore less flavorful than regular, though it's pretty growing in the garden. I assume I won't poison myself. Has anyone tried it?

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: Glencora

                          You are right - bronze fennel is both beautiful AND edible.

                          1. re: Glencora

                            I grow bronze fennel in my "hot colour" flower border, where I brush past it (I don't have much space so all of my herbs are in the flower beds). Nice fronds and a good yellow in the tiny flowers.

                            Goes well with seafood, of course. I marinate prawns in olive oil, lemon juice, fennel and spring onions overnight before mixing with mayo, to which I add tabasco (or similar). I serve this on lettuce and topped with more chopped spring onions, black olives and deseeded tomatoes.

                            I'd also use it in Frit Mallorquin (or Frit de Matances if you've just had the annual pig-killing) - basically fried liver, onion, red or green pepper, potato, garlic.

                          2. I dice the ponds quite fine, and use them in place of celery in chicken salad.

                            1. Chop them up along with baby arugula, basil, parsley, mint (and whatever other green herbacious tender leaves you like) toss with ricotta and pecorino, salt and pepper, hot just-cooked pasta (and pasta water to loosen the sauce.) Great fast fresh summer meal.

                              1. bookmarking for myself - if someone wants to tell me how to bookmark without replying, I'd be glad to

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: thursday

                                  Up above the title of this thread and below the board name, check off "favorite topic". To find it again, select "favorites" in the MyChow menu.

                                2. Ive also used them as a delicate flavor in marinades for chicken or white fish.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: fmcoxe6188

                                    Rick Bayless uses fennel fronds in his Oaxacan green mole, as a substitute for epazote and hoja santa (hard to find here in Ontario!). This works really well.