Things I Love

July 10, 2013

Fennel Pollen

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I wish you could smell the fragrance of this gorgeous yelllow-green pollen, which is filling the air as I sit here.  This jar's not new – it's been sitting in my spice cupboard for more than a year – but the scent is so powerful and fresh I can easily imagine myself onto a Tuscan hillside, with fennel spilling down the mountainside around me.

Fennel pollen, with its warm anise aroma, is a wonderful addition to a spice cupboard; it has an untamed wildness that improves so many dishes. Dust it onto chicken as it goes into the oven, or onto lamb chops just before serving. Sprinkle it into a pasta sauce to make it brighter. Fennel pollen loves goat cheese, it goes gorgeously with a bit of orange zest, and it's a great addition to an olive oil pound cake. It tames broccoli rabe, too, adding a sweet sultry note to the bitter greens. 

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  • Irene says:

    Ruth — I thought I first learned of fennel pollen in “My Kitchen Year.” It sounded interesting so I ordered some. Now I’m looking through your book to find recipes that use it, but it’s not in either index. Help, please!

    • Irene says:

      My apologies — the book I saw fennel pollen in was Alice Waters’ “My Pantry.”

      • admin says:

        Hi Irene,

        I really love fennel pollen, and find myself sprinkling it on all kinds of roasts as they go into the oven. I’ll sometimes sprinkle some into the “Bolognese” to ramp up the fennel flavor. Sometimes I sprinkle it on pasta, or cheese. If you’re looking for ideas, here’s a good source:


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