According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, fennel pollen was originally introduced to the American market as a digestive aid. Collected from the fennel plant, a perennial herb with a variety of medicinal uses, this perhaps wasn’t so strange. However, fennel pollen has been primarily known for its culinary applications: Tuscan and Italian cooks have used this fresh, sweet spice for generations in gourmet dry rubs for fish and meats, as a flavoring for salads and breads, and much more. Eventually, American chefs realized the true value of this substance and began cooking with pollen themselves. The ingredient they discovered not only flavored their dishes but boosted the savoriness and intensity of their recipes, and quickly spread from the finest restaurants to homes across the United States. Today, there are a variety of good pollen recipes for everything from appetizers to quick and easy desserts. Get the culinary experience so many people are raving about by testing a few easy ways to start cooking with pollen, listed below!
Use Fennel Pollen to Make the Best Dry Rub for Pork, Poultry or Salmon
Mix fennel pollen with kosher salt or complimentary spices, like ground celery seed or cumin. Then, rub this mixture onto a pork shoulder or dust it on pork ribs, salmon, chicken breasts or skin-on turkey. This use has its roots in Northern Italy, and quickly became one of the most popular ways to begin cooking with pollen in the U.S.
Go Traditional With Pastas and Risottos
Fennel pollen works well with veal, mushrooms, spring vegetables and citrus, especially when it comes to pasta dishes. Consider dusting veal with the pollen before browning it for a Bolognese sauce, or cooking asparagus, leeks, and baby carrots in olive oil and a teaspoon of fennel pollen for a pasta or risotto primavera. You can also mix fennel pollen into ravioli fillings or homemade pasta dough for a unique flavor.
Don’t Forget Dessert
When it comes to sweeter recipes, fennel pollen pairs well with oatmeal, cinnamon, orange, lemon and chocolate. As a result, it adds a unique touch to chocolate chip cookie recipes, cinnamon buns, blueberry crisp, coffee cake and more; simply mix a tablespoon into the dough or dust it on top.
Have you tried cooking with pollen? Which recipes were your favorite? Tell us about it in the comments below!