Diffuse in the Mediterranean world – and not only – along mountainsides, roadsides and bordering fields and woods, wild fennel towers stately, gently waving in our late August breezes.
The fluffy green barba (“beard”) of the springtime wild fennel has given way to long stalks topped with the seed-bearing flowers.
The pungent anise-scented seeds add a tangy addition to many a dish, most especially in the cuisine of southern Italy. Here in Umbria, fennel is often included in the seasoning of roasted goose, duck, rabbit, chicken, pork. And of course in la porchetta
One of our favorite side dishes? Oven-roasted potatoes seasoned with olive oil, diced garlic, salt, pepper, wild fennel, fresh rosemary:
Peppa makes sure that she has fennel even in the winter for her roasts, for she gathers seeds in summertime, then grinds therm. We’re often lucky enough to receive some as a gift, “finocchi” scrawled on a piece of paper in the jar:
I added a bit of Peppa’s pulverized fennel seeds to the zucchini pasta dish I made today.
An easy dish to make and quick: diced garlic cloves are sautéed in olive oil, then zucchini strips added. A gentle simmer of a few minutes and then fennel and a chili pepper join in: the flowers of the fennel I’d gathered and then a touch of Peppa’s crushed seeds.
Add salt to taste. When zucchini soft to the touch – though not mushy – stir into the pasta (spaghetti suggested). Note: you can boil water for the pasta and cook it in about the time it takes to make this sauce.
I have fennel in abundance now and will make a pasta sauce with minced local sausage, tomatoes and the fennel. Another dish I wish to try? Spaghetti seasoned with wild fennel, garlic, olive oil and toasted bread crumbs.
A sauce with tuna and wild fennel coming up, too. And one with crushed pistachios. I have abundant fennel now:
…and if I run out, our friend Chiarina has more!
Read here wild fennel curiosities