The first little fennel bulbs of the season popped up at our CSA farm attached to a humungous (2 foot-long) stalk of beautiful, fresh fronds. Not wanting to waste any of that bounty, I made fennel frond pesto, froze some in a little tube to chop up later, and stirred some into braised fennel.
When freezing fennel frond pesto, I typically go easy on the garlic since I find it doesn’t freeze well. Instead, I just whir the fronds, picked clean from the stalks, in a food processor with salt, olive oil and sometimes some blanched almonds or pine nuts for texture. For using it fresh, I add a little chopped garlic.
To braise fennel, score the bulb and slice it lengthwise into slivers. Sauté them in a saucepan in a little olive oil or butter until it just starts to brown, add water or a chicken or vegetable stock, not quite to cover the vegetables and cook slowly, covering the pan, until tender. Add a squeeze of lemon juice. If there’s a lot of liquid left in the pan, remove the fennel and boil the liquid down to syrup and pour it over the fennel.