Common or Bronze Fennel Puree with Pasta

Preparation info

  • Serves

    4

    as a main course
    • Difficulty

      Medium

Appears in

Vegetables from Amaranth to Zucchini

By Elizabeth Schneider

Published 2001

  • About

Much more than a seasoning pesto, this puree is both green vegetable and deep-flavored sauce for lovers of pastis, anise, licorice, and the like. Boiling tames the ferocious flavor, rendering it mellow and buttery—much like creamy, mild Pernod. For variation, garnish with halved cherry tomatoes.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound common or bronze fennel stalks
  • 2 or 3 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
  • About ½ teaspoon minced garlic
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 pound imported Italian pasta of just about any type
  • About ½ cup full-flavored olive oil
  • About 2 tablespoons dry vermouth or white wine

    Method

    1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. If bases of fennel stalks are tough or dried, trim off and discard. Separate feathery fronds from stalks and reserve. Slice stalks, then drop into the boiling water with plentry of salt. Boil until tender, about 10 minutes.
    2. Meanwhile, rough-cut fennel fronds (to make about 6 tightly packed cups). When stalks are tender, add fronds to water, cover, and return to a boil. Uncover, add halved garlic cloves, and boil, stirring often, until greens are quite tender, about 5 minutes. (If using bronze fennel, do not be surprised if the water turns navy-purple.) Drain.
    3. Refill pot and bring water to a boil. Add salt and cook pasta.
    4. Meanwhile, transfer well-drained fennel to food processor. Puree, scraping sides often. Add minced garlic to taste and plenty of salt and pepper—to overseason. Gradually whirl in ⅓ cup oil. Add vermouth to taste, then more oil, salt, and pepper as needed.
    5. Mix puree thoroughly with pasta, using tongs to coat well. Season.