Fennel Frond Pesto With Lemon and Anchovies Recipe

[Photograph: Daniel Gritzer]

Editor’s note: This recipe was developed during the coronavirus pandemic, which has compelled people the world over to confine themselves to their homes, including our recipe developers. Unlike the other recipes on the site, this recipe hasn’t gone through the rigorous testing we apply to our usual recipes and lacks measurements by mass.

If you find yourself with leftover fennel fronds, you can whip up this easy sauce in no time. It’s bright with fresh lemon juice and lemon zest, funky thanks to garlic and a touch of mustard, and savory due to a healthy dose of oil-packed anchovies. Feel free to vary it based on what you have and desire (skip the anchovies, add capers, use scallions or chives instead of garlic, etc.).

You can use this sauce a million ways: Dress vegetables with it, toss pasta in it, serve it with roasted or poached meats, dollop it on eggs or fresh cheeses, spread it on sandwiches, and more.

Why It Works

  • Roughly chopping the fennel fronds makes it easier for the blender to fully purée them.
  • Anchovies add a savory note, mustard and garlic add pungency, while fresh lemon brightens the sauce.
  • Yield:Makes about 2 cups
  • Active time:5 minutes
  • Total time:5 minutes
  • Ingredients

    • 1 quart lightly packed fennel fronds and tender stems (from about 4 bulbs), very roughly chopped
    • 5 oil-packed anchovy fillets
    • 4 medium cloves garlic
    • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
    • Juice and zest of 1 lemon
    • Extra-virgin olive oil
    • Kosher salt


    1. 1.

      In a blender jar or using an immersion blender, combine fennel fronds, anchovies, garlic, mustard, and lemon juice and zest. Add enough olive oil to just barely come to the top of the solid ingredients.

    2. 2.

      Blend until a smooth sauce forms. Season with salt to taste. Use right away, or transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 5 days.

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