2 T fennel seeds
2 cups fennel bulb
1 cup fresh flat leaf parsley
2 cloves garlic
1/3 cup walnuts
1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
½ cup virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Discard the pithy stalks (keep some top for sauce, recipe below) and cut the bottom off the fennel bulb. Roughly chop and steam for several minutes to slightly soften. Meanwhile soak the fennel seeds in a cup of hot water.
Combine drained fennel seeds, fennel bulb, parsley, garlic, and nuts in a blender or food processor. Blend with pulsing action to mix. Add the parmesan cheese and whirl for fifteen seconds. With the machine running, slowly add the olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Continue to process until pesto reaches desired consistency. Allow pesto to stand for about five minutes before serving to allow flavors to develop.
Makes about 1 1/4 cup of pesto. Half the recipe for the sauce recipe below.
Fennel and Sun-Dried Tomato Sauce
¼ cup olive oil
2 T minced onion
1 (14 oz.) can Italian style plum tomatoes with juice, chopped
½ cup fennel pesto (see above)
¼ cup minced drained and blotted sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil
2 T fennel tops finely chopped (fernlike tops saved from fennel)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Heat the oil in a medium skillet. Add the onion. Sauté, stirring, over low heat until the onion is soft but not browned, about 3 minutes. Add the plum tomatoes and pesto; cook, stirring and crushing tomatoes, with the side of a spoon until the juices are slightly reduced and the sauce is thickened, about 15 minutes. Add the sun dried tomatoes and fennel tops. Simmer over low heat for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Toss with hot pasta. Serves 4