Fennel Frond Pesto With Lemon and Anchovies Recipe

Turn your herb and vegetable leftovers into a delicious and versatile sauce.

Photograph: Daniel Gritzer

Why It Works

  • Roughly chopping the fennel fronds makes it easier for the blender to fully purée them.
  • Anchovies add a savory note, mustard and garlic add pungency, while fresh lemon brightens the sauce.

If you find yourself with leftover fennel fronds, you can whip up this easy sauce in no time. It's bright with fresh lemon juice and lemon zest, funky thanks to garlic and a touch of mustard, and savory due to a healthy dose of oil-packed anchovies. Feel free to vary it based on what you have and desire (skip the anchovies, add capers, use scallions or chives instead of garlic, etc.).

You can use this sauce a million ways: Dress vegetables with it, toss pasta in it, serve it with roasted or poached meats, dollop it on eggs or fresh cheeses, spread it on sandwiches, and more.

This recipe was developed during the coronavirus pandemic, which has compelled people the world over to confine themselves to their homes, including our recipe developers. Unlike the other recipes on the site, this recipe hasn't gone through the rigorous testing we apply to our usual recipes and lacks measurements by mass.

Recipe Facts



Active: 5 mins
Total: 5 mins
Serves: 16 servings
Makes: 2 cups

Rate & Comment


  • 1 quart lightly packed fennel fronds and tender stems (from about 4 bulbs), very roughly chopped

  • 5 oil-packed anchovy fillets

  • 4 medium cloves garlic

  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

  • Juice and zest of 1 lemon

  • Extra-virgin olive oil

  • Kosher salt


  1. In a blender jar or using an immersion blender, combine fennel fronds, anchovies, garlic, mustard, and lemon juice and zest. Add enough olive oil to just barely come to the top of the solid ingredients.

  2. Blend until a smooth sauce forms. Season with salt to taste. Use right away, or transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 5 days.

Special equipment

Blender or immersion blender

Make-Ahead and Storage

The sauce can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Bring to room temperature before using.

This Recipe Appears In

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
105 Calories
11g Fat
1g Carbs
1g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 16
Amount per serving
Calories 105
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 11g 14%
Saturated Fat 2g 8%
Cholesterol 1mg 0%
Sodium 141mg 6%
Total Carbohydrate 1g 0%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Total Sugars 0g
Protein 1g
Vitamin C 6mg 30%
Calcium 12mg 1%
Iron 0mg 2%
Potassium 40mg 1%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)