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Eating seasonal and local ingredients, eating consciously respecting the environment and reducing food waste.
Nowadays people seem more focused on food, we are starting to understand how much it’s important doing right choices for our body and for our Planet.
I hope that this is the feeling that move people to take cooking class, to contact local farmers and to discover ancient habitude like foraging.
Walking through countryside looking for wild greens, learning how to recognize, harvest and cook is more than a fun activity, it’s a way to reconnect ourselves to Mother Nature.
When I was child we had a garden. My father used to spend lot of time in there. We grew lots of vegetables: eggplants, zucchini, lots of tomatoes, red bell pepper, cherries, plums … everything except broad fava beans, my father hated them and he was not a democratic man.
Despite the huge amount of fresh veggies and fruits available on our table, I remember my parents spending afternoons in the countryside looking for wild greens.
Wild vegetables taste better – my mother used to say – but it was not completely true. Foraging was a way to have a walk, alone or with friends, chatting or just thinking surrounded by the silence.
Upon returning home, the loot was equally divided among the participants. Then was the time to clean the vegetables, cook them quickly if necessary and finally store them.
When I grow up I started to join my father in this activity. I have clear in my mind the image of us, spending the first spring afternoons, walking in the countryside, in silence, looking for the wild asparagus. Little bunches of skinny and crunchy asparagus for simple frittate or creamy risotti.
But my father’s favourite green was the wild fennel, he was able to discover it by the long distance, and I still remember him, stopping the car by the side of the road, leaving us in, to harvest even a little bunch
The wild fennel is very popular in Sicily. We use it in lots of dish like the famous “pasta con le sarde”, but in my family we used to cook it in a very simple way. The wild fennel, already boiled in plenty salted water, was stir fry in a pan with extra virgin olive oil, chopped garlic and chilly. I still remember the taste of the fresh semolina bread soaked in the fennel flavored oil.
At this point you need to know that, as a Sicilian living in Florence, I receive often many box from my Home : lemons for the limoncello together with several kind of cheeses, almond and pistachios, my loved orange blossom honey … beautiful ingredients that sometimes my guests taste during my cooking classes.
Some weeks ago, opening one of these boxes, I found a big bunch of wild fennel. It was fresh, so green and tender, really a precious gift for me, for many many reasons.
The first recipe I decide to prepare with the fennel was this pesto.
A wild fennel pesto. Scented and delicate, absolutely delicious.
I also decide to use the pesto with homemade pasta, so Alice, my little daughter, helped me making these busiate.
Pesto di finocchietto selvatico – Wild fennel pesto
2 small bunches wild fennel
100 g. almonds, peeled
a quarter of a garlic clove
about 5/6 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh grated pecorino cheese
salt and pepper
Fill with water and large pot and bring to the boil. Prepare a bowl with cold water and ice cubes and set aside.
Once the water is boiling add a good pinch of salt and the fennel. Boil for 5 minutes, then drain and pass immediately in the cold water to stop the cooking and save the colour.
Drain the fennel and dry well.
In a mixer put the fennel , roughly chopped, the garlic, the almonds and mix adding the extra virgin olive oil gradually.
Clean the mixer bowl with a rubber spatula, mix more if necessary, the add the cheese. Taste and season for salt and pepper. Serves 4.
You can also find another pesto recipe here