So perhaps spring isn’t this vegie’s best time of year, but due to the supermarket’s supernatural powers, there were some good specimens staring at me the other day and I was inspired. Fennel is a divisive and often little loved vegie that even many adults baulk at. Not everyone loves the aniseed flavour. Which is a shame. When used well, it adds the best little dash of ‘noice & unuuuusssssual’ to a range of dishes.
After some thought, I decided the best way to entice you all to use it is to combine it with my most popular recipe of all time – sausage rolls. Consistently a winner with even the fussiest kids, a bit of puff pastry can hide a multitude of things – in this case it’s fennel, combined gorgeously with pork (which I don’t cook with often), apple, onion and carrot.
My kids were licking the plate at the end of this dinner, which is a rare and joyous occasion (last time it happened was this spaghetti carbonara). Anytime such a miraculous event occurs, I thank the gods and quickly dash to the computer to jot the recipe down. Et voila, a new family favourite to add to your repertoire.
Since the recipe only needs a cup of fennel, you’ll have leftovers. While the kids might not be so keen on it raw, I’m happy enough to eat it up sliced in green salads. And it’s also delish in this beef cannelloni.
Pork, apple & fennel sausage rolls
5 sheets puff pastry
500g pork mince
2 slices wholemeal (or white) bread
2-3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 carrot, peeled, roughly chopped
1 small Granny Smith apple, quartered & cored
1 cup fennel, roughly chopped
1 stick celery, roughly chopped
1 red onion, peeled, roughly chopped
1 egg, whisked, for sticking and glazing
Sesame seeds (optional)
Preheat the oven to 200C. Line an oven tray with baking paper.
Remove the puff pastry from the freezer. Separate out 5 sheets. Score down the middle with a sharp knife and snap into two long rectangles. Set aside to thaw while you mix the filling.
Add the mince to a large mixing bowl. Use a food processor (I use my mini one) to make this prep really quick. Add the torn up bread and garlic to the processor and blitz to make lovely garlic breadcrumbs. Add to the mince. Blitz the carrot and add to the bowl. Repeat with all the vegies. (I do them all separately as they need different amounts of chopping time – eg, the carrots can handle a good blast, but just pulse the apple, to avoid everything turning into pulp).
Sprinkle everything with a stack of pepper, then use your hands (wear kitchen gloves) to combine the mixture really well. Roughly divide into 10, to give you a idea of quantities, then shape into sausages and place down the centre (lengthwise) of your pastry rectangles. Make sure the filling goes right to the edges so that no-one gets ripped off!
Brush egg down one side then use the plastic backing to help you ease over the pastry. Peel back the backing sheet and seal edges together firmly.
At this stage, I cut the backing plastic down the middle and wrap it around the rolls to protect the pastry from drying out while I finish off. Work quickly on the rest. Set aside what you need for dinner tonight, then roll each of the remaining ones in a layer of cling wrap and pop into the freezer. (I freeze them on a tray, then transfer to a zip lock bag for even more protection against freezer burn).
Cut tonight’s up into whatever lengths you like, place on the oven tray, brush with egg and sprinkle over sesame seeds (if using). Bake for 25-30 minutes until cooked through. Serve with salad and these chips.
Makes 10 sticks (about 40 pieces).
DEFROST THESE: for 24 hours in the fridge, then once totally thawed, cook as usual.
NO FOOD PROCESSOR? Then buy breadcrumbs from the shops, grate the apple, carrot and onion and super finely dice the fennel and celery.
If you LOVE sausage rolls, check out this lamb sausage roll recipe too.