A Sicilian tradition that goes on around this time of year is the harvesting of the wild fennel (Foeniculum vulgaris) which in Italian is Finocchietto selvatico. This can be found growing at the side of the roads as well as high in the hills and is then used to begin making many traditional Sicilian recipes.
So the highlight of today was meeting up with Salvatore (a grounds care taker here at Case Vecchie, but also expert forager) and taking a short car journey to a nearby verge which he knew was a hot spot for wild fennel foraging!
Now in March, the wild fennel is poking through and is at it’s sweetest right now- so a prime time for harvesting.
Salvatore’s knowledge of the area and the wild plants that grow here was a great help, and as an expert forager he not only showed us how best to harvest it, but also gave instructions on how best to cook it to produce the finest flavours.
From the haul which we brought back, we created a fennel pasta dish with onion raisins and parmesan as well as fennel fritters (Polpettine di finocchietto selvatico) which were divine. The recipe book by Fabrizia ‘Coming Home to Sicily’ is well worth a look at, and I hope to be eating more of these recipes soon.
I’ll be out on the hunt again soon for another harvesting session as we can’t get enough of it. We can then create even more amazing food, with the subtle satisfaction of knowing we picked it ourselves!