Recipe: Pesto of Finochietto Selvatico
It’s artichoke season and artichokes are everywhere in Sant’Ambrogio, the most beloved market in Florence. I can’t wait to get my hands on them. I take a walk and look all over for the ones that look the freshest to me. I want the leaves tight and compact, so that when I peel them back to expose the delicate interior, I want to slice into a crisp heart. They will also have the best flavor. I will sauté them lightly for a moment with olive oil, garlic and peperoncino and toss with spaghetti. It’s my favorite spring dish. I’ve chosen the organic stand of Maria Meo. She is quite reserved. You have to take a ticket and wait a fairly long time. She has signs everywhere saying “Non Toccare”. Don’t touch. There is no other organic stand, certainly not one with a take-a-ticket box, or signs that say don’t touch- in the entire market. It’s serious business. I personally have never seen such a tough organic female farmer, but I appreciate what she’s doing. I am also eyeing the wild fennel fronds; finocchietto selvatico. I know something about wild fennel from spending time in Sicily. But I am not in Sicily and the idea of making a pesto with the fronds, with almonds, garlic and olive oil has caused my imagination to flare. I wait and wait my turn and think of other things I might take home other that the coveted artichokes and the fronds. Lemons, yes. A few apples, yes. When all of sudden I feel two ladies standing nearby staring at me.