150g (about 2½ cups) fennel fronds
4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
½ cup toasted pumpkin seeds
sea salt
250ml (1 cup) extra virgin olive oil
50g hard cheese, such as cheddar, parmesan or pecorino, finely grated

Billowing, feathery fennel fronds can be transformed into a delicious pesto, with a mellow anise flavour that does not overpower. The first time I tried fennel-frond pesto was during quarantine, when fresh vegetables became a precious commodity and using the whole vegetable was a necessity. During the first lockdown of 2020, my friend Lisa Marie Corso sent me her recipe for fennel-frond pesto, and it was incredibly eye-opening – a vibrantly green, grassy sauce that didn’t taste distinctly of fennel, much smoother than other ‘vegetable top’ pesto mixes. I’ve been experimenting with different versions of fennel-frond pesto ever since, sometimes with other herbs or leaves added, often without cheese, or with different nuts and seeds. This is my favourite recipe, incorporating toasted pumpkin seeds, which add a mild nuttiness and gentle sweetness. Serve with pasta, roasted vegetables, on grain bowls or as a dressing for the fennel and gnocchi salad.

View the recipe collection


1.Place the fennel fronds, garlic and pumpkin seeds in a blender and pulse a few times to chop everything up.
2.Add about 1 teaspoon of sea salt, along with the olive oil, and blitz until you have a coarse paste.
3.Transfer to a bowl and stir in the cheese.
4.Taste and add more sea salt, if needed.

This is an edited extract
by Hetty Lui McKinnon,

Macmillan Publishers,

RRP $69.99. Food

photography by Hetty

Lui McKinnon, author

photo by Shirley Cai.