Pasta with Sausage and Fennel (Gnocchetti Sardi con Salsiccia e Finocchio)

Pasta with sausage and fennel is one of our favorite pasta dishes, that I prepare on a regular basis. The flavors of the fennel, fennel seed, sausage, and pecorino cheese blend into one fantastic flavor. I like to prepare it … Continue reading Pasta with Sausage and Fennel (Gnocchetti Sardi con Salsiccia e Finocchio)

Malloreddus Pasta with Fennel and Sausage

I’ve been to most of the regions of Italy, but not yet to the island of Sardinia (Sardegna in Italian). Owen, one of the long time readers of this blog, requested a recipe for malloreddus, the typical pasta shape of Sardinia. At first I thought I had never heard of them, but then I realized that they are also known as “gnocchetti sardi”, and that DeCecco produces a dry version of them. I did some research and talked online to someone from Sardinia and found out that malloreddus are made from semolina flour and water, and that on Sundays saffron is added to the water (as saffron is too expensive to use on a daily basis). Continue reading “Malloreddus Pasta with Fennel and Sausage”

Swordish, Fennel and Orange Salad

It is great to live on a latitude of 52 degrees in summer, because we get so much sunlight in the evenings. Now it’s payback time however, as the sun sets very early. When I saw fresh swordfish at the fishmonger (rather than frozen, which is usual), I decided to make this salad to bring a bit of the brightness of summer into the dark winter. The swordfish is served raw in this salad. If you don’t like that, you could briefly sear it in olive oil over very high heat and still serve it with a fennel and orange salad. Continue reading “Swordish, Fennel and Orange Salad”

Fennel Gratin (Finocchi Gratinati)

As a main course for the serata piemontese I prepared Brasato al Barolo, beef braised in Barolo wine. I used a wagyu brisket for this that was cooked sous-vide with 2 bottles of Barolo and aromatics for 48 hours at 57ºC/135ºF. The meat was tender and juicy and the sauce was amazing. I asked my friend Resi, who was born and raised in Piemonte, still lives there, and helps me out with my blog in Italian, for suggestions for a side dish for the brasato. She suggested a gratin of cauliflower, fennel, or cardoons. I chose fennel and it was indeed a great combination. Continue reading “Fennel Gratin (Finocchi Gratinati)”

Improved Fennel Polpette

A few weeks ago I prepared fennel ‘meatballs’ for the first time, based upon my memory of having them at the great trattoria Tischi Toschi in Messina, Sicily. I was aware that Luca Casablanca, chef and owner of Tischi Toschi, follows my blog, but I had not imagined that he would react to my post. He did, and he left me some constructive feedback. I loved this, as what better way is there to improve upon my cooking then to get feedback from a master? He wrote: “E’ preferibile non passarle nella farina, l’uva passa deve essere quella nera ” Corinto Nero ” nel soffritto mettere cipolla e non aglio, non pomodoro fresco a pezzi bensì salsa di pomodoro, e mi raccomando di metter almeno la metà di parmigiano . Complimenti e grazie del ricordo.”, which means: “It’s better not to put flour on them, the raisins need to be those black ones “Corinto Nero”, use onions instead of garlic for the sauce, not pieces of fresh tomatoes but a tomato sauce, and I recommend to use only half the parmigiano. Well done and thanks for remembering.”

I decided straight away to honor his reaction by making the polpette di finocchietto again, using his suggestions. As you may remember I was not completely happy with the texture of my first attempt, as they were too wet and didn’t keep their shape. I really needed to fix that as well, as without flour they would be even more prone to falling apart. I decided to wring out the fennel greens with a kitchen towel to remove more water from them, and that worked like a charm. Continue reading “Improved Fennel Polpette”

Fennel Pasta

I had fennel left over after making fennel polpette using only the greens. I decided to use the fennel to make a Sicily-inspired pasta dish with raisins, pine nuts, and saffron. When I made this for the first time, I thought it was a bit bland. Now I added sugar and parmigiano and the result is very tasty. The flavors of the raisins, saffron, and fennel work together very well and are supported by the pine nuts and parmigiano. This is a nice vegetarian pasta dish that I will make again. I am not sure if it resembles any traditional Sicilian pasta dish. Continue reading “Fennel Pasta”

Fennel ‘Meatballs’ (Polpette di Finocchietto)

As an appetizer for my Sicilian dinner I prepared vegetarian meatballs made from fennel and dill, served with a tomato sauce. In Italy these polpette di finocchietto are made with wild fennel greens, which grow abundantly in Italy in spring. For lack of the wild fennel greens, I decided to use a mixture of fennel fronds (the green stuff on top of fennel bulbs) and dill. We loved the polpette di finocchietto during our wonderful dinner at Tischi Toschi, the best trattoria of Sicily in the port town of Messina. I did not ask for the recipe, so this is my own version. They came out great with a lot of flavor. If you’d like to cook vegetarian, this is also very suitable as a main course. Continue reading “Fennel ‘Meatballs’ (Polpette di Finocchietto)”

Guest Post: Fennel Fondant Sous-Vide Without Special Equipment

I love it when someone prepares one of my recipes, and I love it even more when someone lets me know how it turned out!

Recently I did a post on Fennel Sous-Vide Fondant.  I bet some of you are curious about sous-vide after reading about it on this blog, but haven’t tried it yet because the equipment is pricey. Well, some recipes can be made without owning expensive equipment. One of my readers, Clayton from San Francisco, reacted as follows:

Fennel is a vegetable that I have always enjoyed eating. Its anise or liquorice flavor gives salads a subtle flavor-kick which I like. But I have never cooked with it. I don’t own an electric sous-vide water bath but I do own a large stock pot and Ziploc bags. So all that’s left to make this recipe are the ingredients. 

Since most of my readers do not own sous-vide equipment either, I inquired whether Clayton would be willing to do a guest post to share his results with you all.  And so here, with a big thank you to Clayton, is the first ever guest post on! Continue reading “Guest Post: Fennel Fondant Sous-Vide Without Special Equipment”

Deep Fried Fennel (Finocchi Dorati)

Fennel is a versatile vegetable that can be prepared in many ways: caramelized, in risotto, braised, as a salad, or deep fried as in this recipe. It has a nice flavor that reminds us of aniseed. The Italian way of deep frying fennel is to parboil it and then deep fry it breaded with breadcrumbs and parmigiano. Finocchi dorati are tender on the inside, crispy on the outside, and the lovely fennel flavor is accentuated. This is great as a side dish to meat such as this bone-in veal rib eye (about which I will post tomorrow). I parboiled the fennel sous-vide, but if you don’t have sous-vide equipment you can simply steam or parboil in water. The advantage of sous-vide is that no flavor is lost and that the fennel will be tender but firm to the bite. Continue reading “Deep Fried Fennel (Finocchi Dorati)”

Cod in White Wine Sous-Vide

This is an improved version of the Sous-vide cod with braised fennel and white wine sauce that I made more than a year ago. Apart from what I’ve learned about plating and photography since then, the improvements in the recipe are:

  • the cod is cured before cooking sous-vide to improve flavor and texture;
  • the cod is now cooked in the sauce of white wine and shallots, which will impart a nice hint of the wine to the fish;
  • a different temperature for cooking the cod: 41C/106F instead of 54C/129F in an attempt to make it less flaky.

Continue reading “Cod in White Wine Sous-Vide”

Caramelized Fennel

This simple but tasty side dish was inspired by a post by PutneyFarm. Fennel is one of many vegetables that shines most when it’s roasted or broiled or grilled or braised to concentrate the flavor. Raw fennel also has its charm, just don’t boil or steam it because then it will be bland. PutneyFarm panfries the fennel to allow it to caramelize, but I decided to use the broiler instead. It was quite easy to do, but a bit hard to control the caramelizing because it turns from underdone to overdone in a very short time. (For the scientists among … Continue reading Caramelized Fennel

Fennel risotto with Sea bream (Risotto di Finocchio con Orata)

Risotto or pasta is not served as a side dish in Italy, but sometimes you do get fish fillets served on top of a nice plate of risotto (in many cases raw, or just slightly cooked because the raw fillets are on top of the hot risotto). I really like the combination of a risotto made with fennel and home-made fish stock and a sea bream or seabass fillet, fried on the skin side only for juicy tender fish with crispy skin. Risotto takes some time and patience to make, but the texture is better if you do the proper … Continue reading Fennel risotto with Sea bream (Risotto di Finocchio con Orata)