Did you know fennel grows like a weed in the Pacific Northwest? Especially in Ballard. I see it growing along the road on my commute to work every morning and it grows beautifully in my urban parking lot garden! It’s basically a weed – a delicious, anise-flavored weed.
Fennel growing in my urban garden!
If you want to try planting it, find some growing wild and then harvest the seeds in the fall. Sprinkle the seeds around your garden, but be careful. It likes to grow and spread everywhere.
If you happen to have wild fennel in your neighborhood or garden you can use the whole plant. Early tender fennel fronds chopped and added to a salad. Even the coveted fennel pollen picked from the flowers are great in dishes – so elegant and trendy to sprinkle over almost anything.
Harvested fennel seeds
Here is a link to my Liquid Kitchen video on Small Screen Network to see how to make Fennel-Roasted Walnuts – a great nibble to serve with your favorite cocktail.
Later in the year, I love to harvest the seeds, dry them and enjoy all year long! -Kathy
This recipe is from my book Sips & Apps and is one of my favorites. Perfect to take to a party, or even bag up for little gifts.
Makes 5 cups
2 tablespoons fennel seed
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 egg white
1 pound (about 4 cups) walnut halves
Preheat an oven to 250 degrees F. Spray a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray, or lightly oil it.
Grind the fennel seed in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle until finely ground. In a large bowl, mix the ground fennel with the sugar, salt, and pepper. Set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk the egg white until frothy. Add the nuts and toss to coat evenly. Using a fine-mesh strainer, drain off excess egg white. Add the drained nuts to the spice mixture and stir to coat evenly.
Spread the nuts on the pan; they will be a little thicker than a single layer. Roast for 20 minutes. Stir, and roast for 20 minutes more, until the nuts are golden and crisp. Remove from the oven and stir the nuts on the baking sheet but do not remove them. Be sure to let the nuts cool completely and become crisp. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks. If necessary, recrisp them in a 350 degree F oven for a few minutes before serving.
Recipe from Kathy Casey Sips & Apps, Chronicle Books