Pasta con Finocchietto Selvatico Recipe, Pasta with Wild Fennel Fronds and Homemade Sausage, Gluten Free, Dairy Free, and Frugal

My back yard, though I'd planned to take care of it and turn it into a pretty little something, was overgrown by what most of the world knows as weeds. As a forager, I know these plants are mostly edible and delicious, and I made sure to use the mallow overtaking most of my yard in many recipes, but eventually they started to mature and not be so good to eat anymore, so my kids pulled them up before our recent barbecue. However, I told my kids that though they are pulling up the mallow, there were two plants they couldn't touch- my wild swiss chard, officially called sea beet, and my wild fennel plants. Those two are some of my favorite wild edibles, and I wanted to make sure to always have a supply of those plants in my yard, so I wanted to leave enough that they'd go to seed and be able to grow there next season too.

The other day, I had very little produce at home, because I desperately needed to go grocery shopping. I was trying to figure out what to make, and then figured that I could make something with my mountain of wild fennel fronds there, and remembered a dish that I made years ago, a traditional Italian recipe, using wild fennel, pasta, and sausage. I didn't have sausage, so I decided to look up a few recipes for Italian sausage and use some of that seasoning with my ground beef, minus the fennel seeds, because no need to add that since I already will be having that via the wild fennel.

The dish came out really amazing. As in, it was probably my favorite way I ever had fennel, and was a true balm to my soul. But a caveat- it has a very, very strong fennel taste. Which is great if, like myself, you absolutely love the flavor of fennel, that black licorice taste, but if you're only meh on the taste of fennel, you probably won't be such a fan. I also used a ridiculous amount of fennel in mine- a large enough bunch that I couldn't get my hands around it, so if you like fennel but don't want an overpowering flavor, I can also suggest simply using less fennel than I did. 

If you don't have wild fennel, you can use the fronds from store bought fennel, but you'll need to use them from quite a few bulbs to get enough for this.

If you have ready made Italian sausage, you can just use that in place of the beef and all the spices, but if you don't, make this as written.

I made mine dairy free, but feel free to use Parmesan in place of the nutritional yeast if you don't avoid dairy.

Pasta con Finocchietto Selvatico Recipe, Pasta with Wild Fennel Fronds and Homemade Sausage, Gluten Free, Dairy Free, and Frugal

2 tablespoons olive oil or more as needed
1 onion
1 package, approx 2 lbs or 1 kg ground beef
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons paprika
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon oregano
Salt to taste
1 large or huge bunch wild fennel fronds
Water as needed
2 tablespoons honey or other sweetener of choice
Hot pepper to taste
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast or to taste (optional)
1 package cooked gluten free or gluten pasta

1. Wash your fennel fronds well, and boil them for a few minutes. You want to do this enough to soften the fennel fronds, but not too much so all the flavor leeches out. Save this water though, it can be used as tea, either hot or cold.

2. Saute onions in olive oil, then add the meat, coriander, garlic, paprika, thyme, and oregano. Mix well and saute until the meat is browned and fully cooked.

3. Chop up your fennel fronds very small, smaller than shown in the picture. The smaller the better.

4. Add your fennel to the meat, then add salt, honey, and hot pepper to taste. If you want the meat and fennel even softer than you already have, add some water (approximately one cup) and cover, letting it simmer and absorb the water.

5. Cook your noodles, strain, and add them to your pan. Mix well.

6. If you want, add nutritional yeast to taste.

7. Serve hot.


Are you a fan of the taste of fennel, or black licorice? Have you ever made homemade sausage before? Does this look like a recipe you'd try? If you're a forager, what's your favorite thing to do with wild fennel fronds?

Penniless Parenting

Mommy, wife, writer, baker, chef, crafter, sewer, teacher, babysitter, cleaning lady, penny pincher, frugal gal


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  1. I love black licorice flavor and actually have one lone fennel plant growing in my yard that a friend gave me. My husband didn't notice it when he was using the weed wacker so he topped it a while back but it is growing again and I am so happy. I didn't know you could eat the fronds. I am definitely going to try this recipe. And I love making my own sausage! I have a bratwurst recipe that I really like. I also make Italian sausage and breakfast sausage on occasion. It's frugal and it tastes just as good as store bought.

  2. I just made your fennel pasta with wild foraged fennel (made it vegan) from behind my house. It's delicious and the whole family enjoyed it. Who would have thought that nutritional yeast and paprika would be such a great combo. The pasta I used was gnocchi. The fennel was very easy to snap off and to be sure I had the right variety, I tasted a small piece of every frond before cutting them up. Thanks!

  3. Are all wild fennels edible? My husband is wary of foraged plants since we really don't know what we're doing. I read there are some fennels that cause stomach upset. Also, how do you check the fronds for bugs?

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