Pasta with Fennel Frond Pesto and Caramelized Summer Squash

 
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Serves 4

Ingredients:

For the pesto:

  • 1 cup chopped fennel fronds

  • 1 large clove garlic, roughly chopped

  • 2 tablespoons raw almonds

  • ½ teaspoon coarse kosher salt

  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

For the pasta:

  • 1 green onion

  • 2 summer squash, sliced into 1/4-inch thick pieces then cut in half lengthwise

  • Salt and pepper

  • 1 garlic scape

  • 1 lb extruded pasta of your choice

  • Pinch of crushed red pepper

  • Juice of ½ lemon

 

Procedure:

  • Put on a large pot of water to boil for the pasta. Meantime, make the pesto: combine the fennel fronds, garlic, nuts, and salt in a food processor or blender (a Vitamix would be handy with this recipe) and pulse until the mixture is coarsely chopped.

  • Add oil and process or blend until the mixture becomes paste-like.

  • In a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook the onions in 1 ½ teaspoons olive oil until softened and a touch browned, 5 to 8 minutes. Add summer squash, season generously with pepper and a pinch of salt, and continue cooking, stirring occasionally until rather soft and caramelized, about 10 minutes. Turn off heat.

  • Salt the pasta water well and put in the pasta, stirring. Boil per package instructions, but make sure to keep pasta quite al dented. Drain pasta, reserved 1 cup of cooking water.

  • Add cooked pasta to summer squash in skillet and turn heat to medium-high. Add ½ cup cooking water then the pesto, stirring to distribute. Check seasoning and adjust. Cook for 1 minute more. Mixture should look creamy and wonderful. Add a little more pasta water if necessary. Sprinkle with crushed red pepper and squeeze on lemon juice. Serve immediately.

 

Braised Fennel

Ingredients

  • 1 fennel bulb with frond attached
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Juice of half a lemon 
  • Freshly grated Parmesan (optional)

Directions

1) Trim and discard stems of fennel bulb. Finely chop fennel fronds (green leafy tops) and place aside. Slice the fennel bulb lengthwise into ~1/2 inch pieces. 

2) Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Brown, not burn, fennel on all sides, about 5 minutes total. 

3) Reduce heat to low and add white wine to deglaze pan. Also add a healthy splash of water. Cover and cook until fennel is tender, about 8-10 minutes. 

4) Remove from heat. Squeeze half a lemon over fennel, season with salt and pepper. Finally, mix in some chopped raw fennel frond. If using, finish with freshly grated Parmesan cheese. 

Makes a great side dish for fish. Can also use for the base of a great pasta dish by adding other fresh seasonal vegetables. 

Tomato, Fennel & Basil Salad with Thyme-Oregano Balsamic Vinaigrette

 
Recipe courtesy of  Natural Gourmet Institute

Recipe courtesy of Natural Gourmet Institute

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Ingredients for the salad:
4 plum tomatoes, quartered lengthwise and cut into 1/4-inch slices
2 large fennel bulbs, cored and thinly sliced
1 shallot, minced
½ ounce basil, sliced into thin ribbons
Shaved parmesan
 
Ingredients for the vinaigrette:
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon local honey
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon chopped thyme leaves
1 teaspoon chopped oregano leaves
½ teaspoon sea salt
Pinch black pepper
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

Directions:
1) In a large bowl, combine tomatoes, fennel, shallot and basil.
2) In a separate bowl, whisk together balsamic vinegar, honey, mustard, thyme, oregano, salt and pepper. While continually whisking, slowly stream in olive oil.
3) Toss salad with vinaigrette. Sprinkle with fresh Parmesan and serve.