I’ve been thinking about grilling fennel ever since seeing Spoon, Fork, Bacon’s recent post for their Grilled Fennel Tart. It never occurred to me to grill this vegetable but wow, am I in love.
The fennel becomes tender but still holds a nice bite, while the flavor mellows and turns slightly sweet. It proved to be an ideal match with this hearty, garlicky kale pesto you see below.
You can make pesto out of nearly anything. Broccoli, arugula, parsley, cilantro, etc. You don’t have to limit yourself to basil + pine nuts. Walnuts are the perfect substitute when lightly toasted and while kale isn't as flavorful as basil it creates its own unique pesto qualities. Slightly nutty—especially with the walnuts + parmesan—and a bit earthy as kale normally is. A bit of lemon brightens everything up!
You can make this pesto as is or throw in sun-dried tomatoes, basil, parsley, or maybe some roasted garlic. It’s a pretty flexible recipe, so feel free to get creative.
Grilled Fennel + Veggie Millet Salad with Kale Pesto
gluten-free, vegan option // serves ~4
adapted from: vegan kale pesto
- 1 large bunch lacinato/dinosaur kale, washed + stemmed
- 1/4 – 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1/3 cup toasted chopped walnuts
- 1 medium clove garlic
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- salt + pepper
- 1/4 cup basil or other herb, optional
- Bring water to boil in a large pot.
- Prepare a large bowl with ice water.
- Once boiling place kale into the pot and stir for 2 minutes until wilted and bright green.
- Drain water + place kale immediately into the ice bath.
- Drain once chilled and pat dry with a kitchen towel, soaking up as much moisture as possible.
- Place the garlic in the food processor and turn on until chopped.
- Scrape the sides and place the kale, cheese, walnuts, and lemon juice in the food processor.
- Pulse until well combined. Scrape the sides as needed.
- Turn on or pulse while streaming in the olive oil. Add more olive oil until desired consistency is reached. Blend further for a smoother texture.
- Taste and add salt + pepper to your preference. I used about 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of each.
Grilled Fennel Veggie Salad
- 1 cup uncooked millet, rinsed + drained
- 2 cups water
- 1/2 head lacinato/dinosaur kale, washed + stemmed
- 1 medium fennel bulb, sliced 1/8-inch thick
- 1 1/2 red bell peppers, sliced
- 1/2 head cauliflower, stemmed + sliced 1/4-inch thick
- 1/2 tablespoon ghee or olive oil, plus more for grilling
- salt + pepper
*roasted chickpeas would be a great addition
- Melt oil in a medium sized pot over medium heat.
- Once hot add the millet and stir for about 3-5 minutes until lightly toasted.
- Add the water, bring to a boil, stir then reduce heat to simmer and cover for 20 minutes. Keep covered and place on a cool burner for 5-10min. Fluff with a fork.
- Preheat your oven to 350*.
- While the millet is cooking lightly coat the kale with oil, salt, and pepper and place in a single layer on a large pan. Roast for about 15-20 minutes until just starting to brown and crisp. Toss once while cooking.
- Lightly coat the rest of the veggies with oil, salt, and pepper and heat a grill pan over medium/med-high.
- Grill the cauliflower and fennel for about 4-5min per side until just tender and golden brown. Coarsely chop then place on a baking sheet and keep warm in the oven.
- Grill the pepper for 2-3min per side flipping once.
- Toss the millet and veggies together or top veggies over millet.
- Serve hot with a side of pesto.
notes/subs: If you don’t have a grill pan or panini pan you can sauté the vegetables instead.
There are really so many options with this dish. You can make the entire meal, only the grilled veggies, just the pesto, the pesto and veggies, stuff it all into a wrap, or maybe something else? The sky’s the limit!
This week is going to be extremely delicious. Get ready.