Fennel Frond Pesto Pasta with Roasted Zucchini and Heirloom Tomatoes
This recipe comes from “Pure and Beautiful Vegan Cooking” by Kathleen Henry. I was drawn to this because I wanted to try using an ingredient I had never tried before and it just sounded summery and lovely! If you are not familiar with fennel, this would be an interesting way to try it. This recipe uses the frilly part at the top of the fennel, which people often just throw out. The most often used part of the fennel is the bulb at the bottom, which I am looking forward to roasting and throwing on a pizza in a day or two!
2 medium zucchini, diced into medium sized pieces
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, each cut in half
1 Tablespoon olive oil
Dash of salt
500 g dry pasta (you pick the shape – I used penne)
2 cups fennel fronds
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup pepitas or sunflower seeds
2 Tablespoons walnuts
3 Tablespoons nutritional yeast
2 large garlic cloves (peeled and rinsed)
½ Tablespoon red miso paste
½ Tablespoon soy sauce
½ Tablespoon fresh lemon juice (I used more than double this, because I love the zing)
Start by roasting those veggies. Place the diced zucchini and halved tomatoes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt.
Roast for 25-30 min in a 450-degree oven. When they are done, the zucchini should be browning and the tomatoes getting juicy and wrinkly.
During the roasting process, boil the pasta as directed on the package, reserving ¼ cup of the boiling water before draining.
Cut your fennel fronds. I used kitchen scissors, then chopped the fronds. Don't use the stalk at all!
In order to make the pesto, put all the pesto ingredients in a food processor or a high-speed blender and process until the mixture is smooth.
Combine the drained pasta, reserved pasta water and pesto and stir until combined. Top with the roasted veggies and enjoy!
Simplicity rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ I’m giving this 4 stars, but my experience was probably 2 stars. I made the horrible decision to shell sunflower seeds I had at home instead of buying them shelled. Have you tried shelling sunflower seeds? It’s really challenging! The method of putting them in a Ziploc bag and using a rolling pin to break the shells was a mess, and had me end up with crushed seeds. And the other method, using a mixer to break up the shells, was only mildly successful. Take my advice: spend the extra $0.83 and buy the shelled sunflower seeds. (Sigh)
Vegan rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ It was nice to make a vegan pasta and try a new flavor. The fennel fronds added a taste I have truly never experienced before, and it was a nice change.
Carnivore rating: ⭐⭐⭐ “Good, but not better than some of the other things you have made.”
Kid rating: ⭐⭐⭐ “Can I have plain pasta, please?”