Caramelised fennel pesto

Today i’m sharing a caramelised fennel pesto recipe with you! Making pesto, sauces, dips and other condiments is a true love of mine, and I’m sure it is for others too. It just feels so good to throw some ingredients together, stir them, blend them around and done! So much flavour in a bowl.

Traditionally a pesto is of course the unbelievably delicious combination of basil, pine nuts, parmesan and more…but last year when I was cooking in the Masterchef Australia kitchen I had to create a dish that was completely fried..every element! I needed to think of a way to create a balanced dish that didn’t taste ALL fried though…that would be too much, so I thought HOW can I create a few elements that taste refreshing along with the fried prawns in my dish. The result was a caramelised pesto dish with fennel acting as the main core ingredient and the pumpkin seeds replacing the pine nuts. The below recipe is slightly amended…I think that the chili flakes add an essential warmth to the aniseed flavour and to be honest I can’t remember exactly what measurements I used in the Masterchef kitchen on this day! So based on a new and refreshed palate I created the below recipe!

Why I love Fennel

I think fennel is an extremely underrated ingredient. I is SO versatile! The liquorice/aniseed flavour is a really powerful flavour that can be used in so many wonderful dishes. It’s great in pasta, soups, roasts, quiches and more. I think I love fennel so much it would have to up there with my love for eggplant and pumpkin!

I’ll be posting lots of fennel dishes this autumn/winter as I love cooking with it. If you wanted another idea for a fennel recipe now, I did share a fennel and prune osso bucco last year that I think is a great way to use fennel.

Serving suggestions

These are some ways in which I think this pesto is best served!

  • As a side diping condiment for roasted pork belly
  • Great as a condiment for a charcuterie board with cured meats, bread, pickles and cheeses
  • On the side with seafood such as grilled or bbq prawns
  • With crackers and goats cheese
  • In little condiment jars as a gift for friends
  • On the side with roasted potatoes or pumpkin
  • Along with pork sausages
  • With smoked trout (in a sandwich or even as an appetiser)
  • Along with scallops cooked in burnt butter


2 x large fennel bulbs (halved and roughly chopped)

1 cup of fennel fronds

1 x cup of pepitas (green pumpkin seeds)

1 tsp chili flakes

juice from 1 lemon


½ cup extra virgin olive oil



  1. Prepare a hot pan with olive oil and add the chopped fennel. Sauté on medium heat for 10 minutes stirring the fennel every minute or so. It should become caramelized and golden brown on the surfaces.
  2. Add the pepitas and chilli flakes and stir them through cooking for an extra 2 minutes. Turn off the heat and transfer the fennel mixture into a food processor.
  3. Add the lemon juice, salt and a little bit of the olive oil then begin processing the mixture. After 1 minute of processing slowly add more olive oil until the fennel pesto thickens and has a fine texture.
  4. Serve topped with pepitas and fennel fronds.

This recipe has been created for Harris Farm Markets


2 comments on “Caramelised fennel pesto

  1. This stuff was great with some roast pork belly! I substituted pine nuts for pepitas since I didn’t have any but the overall result was so good 🙂

    1. Ohhh pine nuts would have been great of course they are perfectly creamy with normal pestos!! Great to hear you tried it 🙂

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