Recipes Using Fennel Seeds

Fennel and lemon risotto
Parmesan crisps and fennel fritters


  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds, ground
  • ½ tsp dried red chilli flakes
  • 1½ large fennel bulbs, finely chopped, fronds kept for garnish
  • 140g/5oz Parmesan, finely grated
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 280g/10oz arborio rice
  • 250ml/9fl oz dry white wine
  • 700ml–1 litre/1¼–1¾ pints hot chicken stock
  • 1 unwaxed lemon, finely grated zest and juice
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the fennel fritters

  • 250ml/9fl oz soda water, ice cold
  • 1 large free-range egg
  • good pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp cornflour
  • 100g/3½oz plain flour
  • 1 litre/1¾ pints vegetable oil
  • ½ large fennel bulb, cut into thin wedges


  1. To make the risotto, heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan over a medium heat. Sauté the garlic, fennel seeds and chilli flakes for 1–2 minutes. Add the finely chopped fennel and cook for 15–20 minutes, or until softened.
  2. Meanwhile, preheat the grill to medium–high. Using half the Parmesan, spread piles of cheese onto a silicon sheet and grill until melted and golden – if the cheese is spread too thinly it will burn. Remove and leave to cool before breaking into pieces.
  3. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat and cook the onion until softened. Stir in the rice and cook for 1–2 minutes. Pour in the wine and let it bubble until all the liquid has gone. Add the stock, ladle by ladle, stirring and cooking each ladleful until it has been absorbed before adding any more. Continue adding the stock and cooking like this until the rice is tender but still creamy (about 25–30 minutes).
  4. Stir in the remaining cooked fennel, lemon zest and juice and plenty of seasoning. Stir in remaining Parmesan, cover and remove from the heat while you make the fritters.
  5. To make the fritters, beat together the soda water and egg in a bowl. Place the bowl into a larger bowl full of ice (this will keep the batter as cold as possible). Slowly stir in the cayenne pepper, baking powder, cornflour and plain flour.
  6. Heat the oil in a deep saucepan until it reaches 180°C, or a cube of bread browns in 20 seconds. (CAUTION: hot oil can be dangerous. Do not leave unattended.)
  7. Dip the fennel wedges in the batter and deep-fry for 1–2 minutes or until golden. Drain on kitchen paper.
  8. Garnish the risotto with the fennel fronds and Parmesan crisps and serve with the fennel fritters.

Aubergine chips
with fennel yoghurt


For the fennel yoghurt

  • 1 tsp coriander seed
  • 1 tsp fennel seed
  • 200g/7oz plain Greek style yoghurt
  • 125g/4½oz mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • large pinch of sea salt
  • black pepper

For the aubergine chips

  • 2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 100g/3½oz plain flour
  • 1 tsp fine salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 3-4 medium free-range eggs
  • 150g/5½oz panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 tsp sesame seeds
  • 2 aubergines, sliced into 10cm/4in long chips, approximately ½cm/¼in wide
  • oil, for deep frying


  1. Toast both lots of coriander and fennel seeds by putting all 6 teaspoons in a non-stick frying pan and dry fry for a few minutes until you can smell them. Remove and grind in a mortar and pestle.
  2. Add 2 teaspoons of the ground seeds to the yoghurt and combine with the remaining yoghurt ingredients.
  3. For the aubergine chips, mix the flour, salt and pepper in a bowl. In a second bowl beat the eggs. In a third bowl mix the breadcrumbs, the remaining ground seeds and the sesame seeds.
  4. Dip the aubergine chips in the flour and cover well. Shake off the excess and then dip into the egg and shake off any drips and finally coat in the breadcrumbs. Set aside but do not put in the fridge.
  5. Heat the oil in a deep fat fryer or a deep-sided, heavy bottomed pan to 190C, or until a breadcrumb sizzles and turns golden-brown when dropped into it. (CAUTION: hot oil can be dangerous. Do not over-fill the pan or leave unattended). Fry the aubergine in batches for 2-3 minutes until golden-brown. Remove and drain on kitchen paper.
  6. Sprinkle with salt and serve with the fennel yoghurt.

Fennel beetroot


  • 2 fennel bulbs, shredded
  • ½ small red cabbage, shredded
  • 4 beetroot, peeled and shredded
  • 4 spring onions, chopped
  • 6 tbsp soured cream
  • 1 tbsp fennel seeds


  1. Combine all the vegetables in a bowl with the soured cream and nigella seeds.
  2. Stir and serve.

Sardinian lamb
with fennel


  • 1kg/2lb 4oz lamb (neck fillet or shoulder), cut into 6cm/2½in chunks
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • 1 tbsp fennel seeds, ground
  • pinch saffron, ground
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • ½–1 tsp dried red chilli flakes, to taste
  • 2 pieces pared orange zest
  • 300ml/10fl oz dry white wine
  • 300ml/10fl oz lamb stock
  • 2 large tomatoes, skinned and roughly chopped
  • bouquet garni, made from 2 bay leaves, sprig parsley, sprig rosemary
  • 2 fennel bulbs
  • squeeze lemon juice (optional)
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

To serve

  • small bunch fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • small bunch fresh basil, shredded


  1. Put the lamb in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper, then sprinkle over the flour, fennel and saffron. Turn over to coat.
  2. Heat a tablespoon of the oil in a large casserole dish. Add the lamb and fry on all sides, making sure you get a good, deep brown crust. Do this in two batches if necessary – do not crowd the pan as this will stop them from browning properly.
  3. Remove the lamb from the casserole and set aside. Add a little more oil if necessary and fry the onion on a lower heat until soft and translucent. Add the garlic and cook for a further minute or two, then add the chilli flakes and orange zest.
  4. Turn up the heat and pour in the wine. Stir, scraping up any brown bits from the base of the pan. Return the lamb to the casserole, then pour in enough stock to just cover the lamb. Add the tomatoes and the bouquet garni.
  5. Bring to the boil, then turn down the heat to a low simmer. Cover and cook for an hour.
  6. Meanwhile, prepare the fennel bulbs. Trim the tops, cutting off any fronds and reserving for later. Trim the bare minimum from the bases, then cut each bulb in half lengthways. Cut each half into three wedges, also lengthways. You should find these hold together, although the outer layers may come away from the root. Heat the remaining olive oil in a large frying pan, then fry the fennel until caramelised round the edges. Set aside.
  7. When the lamb has cooked for an hour, add the fennel. Continue to cook, uncovered, for 20 minutes, until the fennel is very tender, and the liquid has reduced down a little further. Taste for seasoning and add the lemon juice if using.
  8. To serve, remove the orange zest and bouquet garni. Stir through the parsley and basil and leave to stand off the heat for 2 minutes. Finely chop any reserved fennel fronds and sprinkle over the casserole. Serve in large, shallow bowls.

Meatballs with fennel
and ricotta


For the chicken stock

  • 1 chicken carcass
  • ½ onion
  • ½ stick of celery
  • ½ leek
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 5 black peppercorns
  • 1 small sprig fresh thyme

For the onion jam

  • 50ml/2fl oz olive oil
  • 2 large onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 bay leaf

For the ricotta

  • 2 litres/3½ pints full-fat milk
  • pinch sea salt
  • 2 lemons, juice only

For the meatballs

  • 100g/3½oz butter
  • 50g/1¾oz fresh breadcrumbs
  • 500g/1lb 2oz pork mince
  • 100g/3½oz finocchiona salami (salami with fennel), finely chopped
  • 1 free-range egg
  • pinch fennel seeds
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary, leaves only, finely chopped
  • 1 sprig fresh oregano, leaves only, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 1 fennel head, very thinly sliced (use a mandoline, if available)
  • 50g/1¾oz Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 2 tbsp pine nuts, toasted
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. For the chicken stock, put all the stock ingredients in a large saucepan. Cover with cold water and slowly bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 3 hours. Skim off any fat from the surface, the more fat you remove, the clearer, and therefore purer, your stock will be.
  2. Strain the stock through a sieve lined with a fine cloth. Slowly pour it through – don’t press or it will become cloudy. Pour the strained stock into a clean saucepan and simmer until the volume of liquid has reduced by half. Strain again and chill.
  3. For the onion jam, heat the olive oil in a saucepan. Add the onions and bay leaf and cook gently until soft. Cook over a low heat for about an hour, or until the onions are golden-brown and their natural sugars have caramelised. Remove from the heat. When cool, place in a airtight container and transfer to the fridge.
  4. To make the ricotta, heat the milk until just below boiling, then add the salt and lemon juice. Remove from the heat and set aside for 10 minutes. After this time, the milk should be curdled. Strain through a muslin cloth and leave to rest for 30 minutes (leave for longer if you prefer a drier ricotta). Store in an airtight container and in the fridge.
  5. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/Gas 4.
  6. For the meatballs, melt 50g/1¾oz butter in a frying pan over a medium heat. Add the breadcrumbs and toast until golden-brown, stirring often. If they start to colour too quickly, lower the heat. Set aside to cool.
  7. Mix the mince, salami, egg, fennel seeds and herbs in a bowl. Roll into golf-ball size balls using your hands. Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a frying pan, then add the meatballs and fry them all over to seal. Transfer to an ovenproof dish.
  8. Put the fennel and a tablespoon olive oil in the pan and cook gently for about 10 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons of the onion jam and all of the chicken stock. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the volume of liquid has reduced by three-quarters. Add the remaining butter and swirl it around so it emulsifies and combines into a sauce. Season with salt and pepper and pour the mixture over the meatballs.
  9. Bake the meatballs for 10 minutes, then remove, sprinkle with Parmesan and spoon over a few tablespoons of ricotta. Return to the oven for 5 minutes, or until the Parmesan has browned. Sprinkle the reserved breadcrumbs and pine nuts evenly over the top and serve immediately.


The chicken stock, onion jam and ricotta can all be made in advance making this the perfect dish for a special meal with friends.

Leftover ricotta will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for one week.

You can double the quantities for the onion jam so you have extra to put in sandwiches. It will last in an airtight container for three months in the fridge.

Slow cooker sausage


  • spray oil
  • 375g/13oz pork chipolata sausages (about 12 sausages)
  • 1 bulb fennel, finely sliced, leafy fronds reserved for garnish
  • 200g/7oz dried green lentils
  • 300ml/10fl oz chicken stock
  • 2 bay leaves (optional)
  • large pinch fennel seeds, ground
  • 2 small onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 fat garlic clove, crushed
  • 125ml/4fl oz dry white wine


  1. Preheat a slow cooker.
  2. Heat a little spray oil in a frying pan set over a high heat. Once hot, add the sausages and fry until browned all over.
  3. Meanwhile, add the fennel, lentils, chicken stock, bay leaves (if using) and fennel seeds to the slow cooker.
  4. Transfer the browned sausages to the slow cooker. Using the same pan, gently fry the onions until softened. Add the garlic and fry for a minute. Turn up the heat and add the wine, let it bubble for a minute, then tip the contents of the pan into the slow cooker. Season generously with salt and pepper and give it a stir.
  5. Cover with a lid and cook on high for 4 hours, or low for 7–8 hours. Serve in warmed bowls garnished with the reserved fennel fronds.

Braised Savoy cabbage
with bacon


  • 1 Savoy cabbage, cored and shredded
  • 110g/4oz smoked streaky bacon, derind and chopped
  • 55g/2oz butter
  • 85ml/3fl oz dry white wine
  • 2 tbsp fresh chopped parsley
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 2 tbsp crème fraîche
  • salt and freshly ground pepper


  1. Melt the butter in a large pan. Add the bacon and cook for 3-4 minutes.
  2. Add the cabbage and mix all together. Add the wine and season well. Cover and cook gently for 10 minutes until the cabbage is tender.
  3. Stir in the fennel seeds, parsley and crème fraîche and serve.

alla Romana


  • 8 small globe artichokes, outer leaves peeled, stems trimmed
  • 2 lemons, juice only
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 4 carrots, peeled, chopped
  • 1 onion, peeled, finely sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled, finely sliced
  • 2 celery sticks, trimmed, stringy parts peeled away, sliced
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 6 black peppercorns, left whole
  • 300ml/10½fl oz white wine
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • sea salt flakes
  • 100ml/3½fl oz water
  • dash extra virgin olive oil
  • handful chopped fresh parsley leaves


  1. Cut the peeled, trimmed artichokes in half lengthways and scoop out the hairy ‘chokes’ using a teaspoon. Rub the artichoke halves all over with the lemon juice to prevent them from discolouring. Set aside.
  2. Heat a heavy-based, lidded ovenproof casserole over a medium heat. When the casserole is hot, add the fennel and coriander seeds and dry fry for 30 seconds to one minute, or until the seeds begin to pop. (CAUTION: Keep the pan away from the eyes and face as popping seeds can be dangerous.)
  3. Add the carrots, onion, garlic, celery, bay leaves, peppercorns, wine and sugar and season, to taste, with salt. Stir well to combine.
  4. Place the artichoke halves into the casserole, then pour over the water. Bring the mixture to a gentle simmer, then cover the casserole with a lid and cook for 25-30 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.
  5. When the vegetables are tender, remove the casserole from the heat and set aside, uncovered, until cooled slightly.
  6. When the casserole contents have cooled slightly, drizzle over the olive oil, then sprinkle over the parsley. Serve the artichokes alla Romana with steamed fish or barbecued meat.

Dukkah lamb cutlets
with quinoa salad


For the quinoa salad

  • 200g/7oz quinoa, cooked according to the packet instructions
  • handful fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh mint
  • 1 red pepper, finely diced
  • 1 cucumber, finely diced
  • 1 red onion, finely diced
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lemon, juice only
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the dukkah

  • ½ tsp cloves
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • pinch turmeric
  • ½ tsp chilli flakes
  • 50g/2oz hazelnuts, chopped
  • 30g/1oz pistachios, chopped
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 4 tbsp honey
  • 1 orange, juice only
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 12 lamb cutlets


  1. For the quinoa salad, mix together the quinoa, herbs and vegetables in a bowl and dress with olive oil and lemon juice. Season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  2. For the dukkah, heat a frying pan and dry fry the cloves, fennel, coriander and cumin until fragrant. Place in a pestle and mortar and grind until smooth.
  3. Combine the spices with the rest of the dukkah ingredients in a bowl and mix until well combined.
  4. Rub each lamb cutlet with the dukkah and orange juice mixture and grill on a hot griddle, on a barbecue, or under a pre-heated grill, for 2-3 minutes on each side, or until cooked to your liking.
  5. To serve place some of the quinoa salad onto four plates and place three lamb cutlets on top of each.



  • 2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • ½ onion, finely chopped
  • ¼ garlic clove, crushed
  • 200g/7oz risotto rice, such as carnaroli
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 150g/5oz butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1cm/½in cubes
  • 300ml/10½fl oz water
  • 300ml/10½fl oz tomato essence or passata
  • 10 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 baby courgettes, halved lengthways and sliced into 1cm/½in thick pieces
  • 1 baby fennel, sliced
  • 1 tsp of fennel seeds grinded for sprinkling
  • ½ tsp coriander seeds, lightly crushed
  • 80g/3oz peas
  • 2 tbsp mascarpone cheese
  • 4 tsp freshly grated parmesan, plus extra for sprinkling
  • 4 tbsp baby salad leaves


  1. Preheat the oven to 200C/180C Fan/Gas 6.
  2. Heat a pan over a medium heat, add the olive oil and gently fry the onion for 3–4 minutes, or until tender. Add the garlic and fry for a further minute.
  3. Add the rice, stirring well to coat in the olive oil. Fry for 1–2 minutes, or until the rice is translucent. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  4. Add the butternut squash to the pan and mix well. Add the water and half of the tomato essence, then bring to a gentle simmer. Cover with a lid and cook for 15 minutes.
  5. Place the remaining tomato essence into a saucepan and warm through.
  6. Meanwhile, place the halved cherry tomatoes onto a baking tray, drizzle with a little olive oil and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Roast in the oven for 5–6 minutes, or until the tomatoes are just tender and collapsed slightly.
  7. By now, the rice should have absorbed all of the liquid. Remove the lid and stir well. Add the courgettes, baby fennel and coriander seeds and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the peas, mascarpone and parmesan and stir well, adding a little extra tomato essence if the risotto is too dry.
  8. To serve, spoon the risotto into a small serving bowl. Top with a few roasted tomatoes, a little sprinkling of parmesan and some micro leaves. Spoon over the warmed tomato essence.



  • 2kg/4lb 8oz mixed fresh fish fillets and shellfish, such as red mullet, small sole, gurnard, monkfish, sea bass,
  • cuttlefish, baby octopus, prawns, mussels, squid or scallops
  • 8 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 1 large onion, finely sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped, plus an extra clove for the toast
  • 1kg/2lb 4oz ripe tomatoes, skinned and chopped, or 2x400g/14oz tins of chopped tomatoes
  • 125ml/4fl oz red wine
  • chopped fresh chilli, to taste
  • 3 tbsp finely chopped flatleaf parsley
  • ½ tsp fennel seeds
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. If your fishmonger hasn’t already done so, clean and prepare your chosen fish and shellfish. Cut fish fillets into large chunks and seafood into manageable pieces.
  2. Put the oil, onion and garlic into a large pan and fry briefly.
  3. Add the tomatoes, wine, chilli, parsley and fennel seeds and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 15 minutes.
  4. Start to add large pieces of fish to the sauce first and those that will take the longest to cook such as monkfish, then add the more tender fish such as red mullet or sole and the shellfish, ending up with the mussels if using. Cook for five or so minutes, or until the fish is cooked and the mussels have opened. (Discard any mussels that haven’t opened.)
  5. Rub the bread with garlic, drizzle with olive oil, and put each slice in the bottom of a deep soup bowl. Pour over the soup and serve.

Sausage ragù
with tagliatelle


For the pasta dough (or purchase ready made)

  • 400g/14oz 00 pasta flour
  • 4 free-range eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 tsp salt

For the ragù

  • 400g/14oz good quality coarse pork sausage meat
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 sticks celery, chopped
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds, roughly ground in a pestle and mortar
  • 1 sprig of fresh rosemary, leaves finely chopped
  • ¼ tsp chilli flakes
  • 1 large garlic clove, grated
  • 150ml/5fl oz dry white wine
  • 150ml/5fl oz double cream
  • 150ml/5fl oz chicken stock
  • 50g/1¾oz Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. To make the pasta, in a food processor, combine the flour, eggs and salt, then tip onto a work surface and bring together in a ball of dough, cover in cling film and rest for 20-30 minutes.
  2. Ideally with a pasta machine or a rolling pin, roll out the pasta into a couple of thin sheets (about 2mm thick). Run through a pasta machine to make tagliatelle, or using a knife or pizza cutter, cut into 5mm wide ribbons. Separate the strands and leave to dry on the back of a chair or spread out on a tray.
  3. Break up the sausage meat into a large lidded pan with a little olive oil, depending on how fatty the sausage meat is, as it may render quite a bit of fat. Cook on a medium heat for around 10 minutes stirring from time to time. Add the onion, celery, fennel seeds, rosemary, chilli and garlic then cook for a further 15 minutes. Pour in the wine and cook until reduced in volume by half, then add the cream and chicken stock. Season with salt and pepper then put a lid on the pan and simmer gently for half an hour.
  4. When ready to serve, cook the tagliatelle in plenty of salted water for about 4 minutes until al dente, drain and add to the ragù pan and mix in. Serve in warmed bowls with freshly grated Parmesan.


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