We have some pretty talented folks in our office - meat crafters, a former recipe tester from America's Test Kitchen, home chefs, and more. So, it makes it pretty exciting when we have a funny vegetable or fruit come in from a farmer that's outside the typical tomato, potato, and apple - recipe ideas come a-flyin'.
Fennel is one of those fun items. Its not unusual by any means, however, if you're unsure what to do with their funky lookin' fronds, it may be intimidating. We find that the anise taste goes really well in a salad with tangy vinaigrette, baked on a pizza with onion and asiago cheese, or roasted - like this recipe.
By using the whole vegetable - in this case the bulb, stalks, and fronds - we reduce waste, and also find new flavors in the kitchen. Add a baguette to the equation and we have a great starter to any meal, or appetizer for a cocktail party!
Roasted Fennel + Pesto Crostini
Serves a small group
1 large fennel bulb + stalks, bulb sliced evenly, stalks diced
fronds from the fennel bulb
3 ounces parmesan reggiano cheese, grated
3 garlic cloves, peeled
5 tbsp olive oil
4 tbsp pine nuts, toasted*
1 French baguette, sliced into 1 inch thick pieces
1. Preheat oven to 400°. Toss fennel bulb and stalks with a little bit of avocado oil or olive oil, place in an oven-safe dish, and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Place in the oven for about 15 - 20 minutes, or until the fennel is tender and beginning to turn golden brown on the edges.
2. While the bulb is roasting, make the fennel frond pesto. In a food processor, combine the fronds, parmesan reggiano, garlic, olive oil, and toasted pine nuts. Blend until a creamy consistency - if too dry, add a little bit of olive oil, but don't overdo it!
3. Take roasted fennel out of the oven, and turn up the heat to 450°. Once oven reaches 450° place baguette slices on a cookie sheet and place in the oven to toast - just a few minutes on each side (keep an eye on them).
4. When baguette slices are toasted, gently spread pesto and place a few roasted fennel slices and stalk on each crostini piece.
Finish this dish with a light sprinkle of sea salt and pepper, and prepare for all of the crostini to be swiped up quickly! This unusual, but delicious, starter is sure to be a refreshing and interesting dish on the table.