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Greedy, Gluttonous Groundhog Stew- Fennel Frond Pesto +

Ok, I apologize. I’m not really making groundhog anything. I’ve just been feeling absolutely murderous toward them lately and had macabre fantasies of running toward them with a frying pan and a salt shaker.

Despite the fact that Cornell says planting onions, holly, juniper, lilac, sweet fern, wisteria and fennel will ward off these chubby little squatter rodents, my groundhog sashays through my onions, holly, juniper, lilac, sweet fern and wisteria to GET to my fennel. So I apologized to the myriad of butterflies and bees that loved the fennel pollen, and harvested it all.

Potato Fennel Soup

INGREDIENTS

4 lbs new potatoes, unpeeled and quartered

1⁄4 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon minced garlic clove

1 tablespoon kosher salt

2 teaspoons ground black pepper

4 cups yellow onions

4 cups fennel bulbs, about 2 lb

3 quarts chicken stock or 3 quarts vegetable stock

1 cup heavy cream, optional

METHOD Preheat oven to 400°F.

Toss the potatoes with 1/4 cup olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper. Spread on a baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes, until cooked through.

Saute the chopped onions and chopped fennel with 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large Dutch Oven on medium heat until translucent, 10 to 15 minutes.

Add the roasted potatoes (including scrapings from the pan) and the stock.

Bring to a boil.

Lower the heat and simmer uncovered for 1 hour, until all the vegetables are very soft.

Add the heavy cream if you choose and allow the soup to cook slightly.

Using an immersion blender, puree the soup in the pot (this can also be done in a regular blender. Taste for salt and pepper.

Top with pickled radishes for a little crunch (see below).

Pickled Radishes

INGREDIENTS

2-14 radishes, thinly sliced (1 bunch, see note)

3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed

1 chile pepper, halved and smashed

1/2 cup rice vinegar

1/2 cup water

2 tablespoons sugar or honey

handful of fennel fronds

2 teaspoons salt

METHOD

Slice the radishes very thin, with a mandoline.

Stir radishes, garlic, chile pepper, rice vinegar, water, sugar, and salt in a jar with lid. Cover and refrigerate at least 20 minutes.

Fennel Frond Pesto

INGREDIENTS

1 cup roughly chopped fennel fronds

2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

2 tablespoon pine nuts or slivered almonds

1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

METHOD

Combine the fennel fronds, garlic, nuts and salt in a food processor or blender and pulse until the mixture is chopped up.

Add oil and process/blend until the mixture becomes paste-like. (You may have to scrape down the sides of the bowl.)

Serve pesto at once, refrigerate for up to a week, or freeze for up to a month.

Or simply share with your resident groundhog. Clearly, he’ll enjoy it all.


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