Wild Fennel Meatballs

As I told you a few weeks ago when I presented you my “pasta with sardines at sea” recipe, since I went to Sicily I have been cultivating a timid but consistent interest in wild fennel.
Wild fennel is a humble plant, it grows on its own on the sidewalks in the countryside of many Italian regions and thrives under adverse conditions, where other vegetables can’t survive. Upon my return from Sicily, I immediately planted some on my balcony, and harvesting it has been deeply satisfying ever since. It sits there uncared for, in a small vase, overlooking one of the busiest and most polluted streets of Milan, watered once in a while when I randomly remember, and yet, it continues to generously gift me new branches.

Polpette di finocchietto selvatico - Wild Fennel Meatballs

Wild fennel meatballs are actually my favorite way to use up wild fennel. Wild fennel is great on pasta, in salads, or inside omelets, but it really shines when it’s the protagonist of the show, with fewer other flavors to disguise its aroma.

These wild fennel meatballs are like flat little cakes made mostly of fennel and cheese, so make sure you do enjoy the flavor of wild fennel – which is similar to anise, and more intense than that of regular fennel – before you prepare this recipe. I love it, but I understand that it’s not for every palate. It’s probably not the most kid-friendly dish on this website, either, so I’d say try falafel as a vegetarian starter for the little ones instead, and prepare these yummy wild fennel meatballs for the grownups only!

Polpette di finocchietto selvatico - Wild Fennel Meatballs

Wild Fennel Meatballs

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Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Course Antipasto
Cuisine Italiana
Servings 1


  • 180 g wild fennel fronds, boiled and drained
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp breadcrumbs
  • oil for frying
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • The best way to preserve wild fennel is to blanch and freeze it, so our recipe begins with fennel that was previously boiled and promptly defrosted for the occasion.
    180 g wild fennel fronds, boiled and drained
  • In the food processor, mix all the ingredients except the breadcrumbs. Add salt and pepper to taste.
    1 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper to taste, 1 egg
  • Adjust the consistency of the batter with breadcrumbs as needed to be able to form little, flat meatballs, which must be soft but not falling apart.
    1 tsp breadcrumbs
  • Heat about an inch of oil in a pan and when it is hot, gently slide in the meatballs.
    oil for frying
  • Fry the meatballs for a couple of minutes on both sides and then drain them on a paper towel.
  • Serve the wild fennel meatballs warm or at room temperature, accompanying them with a fresh side salad.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Polpette di finocchietto selvatico - Wild Fennel Meatballs

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