Fava beans cream with deep fried beard fennel in batter

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To make this cream I took inspiration from an ancient sardinian recipe of indisputable success. I am talking about the boiled ripe fava beans flavoured with wild fennel, delicious! You squeeze them out with your bare hands, throwing away the skin, you just can’t help yourself to have one more.

Ingredients for the cream

  • 1 kg ripe fava beans husked (still green)
  • 1 fennel with the beard
  • a bunch of wild fennel
  • ½ onion
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • a chunk of butter
  • salt to taste
  • 100 gr gorgonzola cheese
  • 1 litre peanut oil

Ingredients for the batter

  • 100 ml water
  • 100 gr flour of wheat
  • 1 egg yolk
  • a pinch of aniseed powder (to taste)
  • a pinch of salt

Put 3 or 4 litres of water in a large pot on a medium heat. Ones you have removed the beans from the husk pour them in the water and salt it. Clean and cut the wild and the domestic fennel roughly but remember to spare the beard. Simmer the vegetables for 1 hour and a half adjusting with salt if necessary. When it has reduced enough make it smooths using a blender. Pour the butter and the gorgonzola cheese to make it creamy and switch off the burner. Give it a rest while you are preparing the batter for the fried beard fennel.

To prepare the batter mix the yolk, a pinch of salt, a pinch of aniseed powder, the water and whisk it quickly. Pour the flour and stir it until it is absorbed. You don’t need to over do it, it will work perfectly even with some lumps. The less you stir it the better, you will avoid the formation of gluten responsible for the absorption of oil. Cut the beard fennel in very small pieces and dip them in the batter before frying them. Make sure the batter has the right thickness sticking properly to the fennel.

In a large frying pan hit the peanut oil. To check if it is hot enough pour a drop of batter, if it sinks and comes afloat immediately it means it is ready. Fry few pieces per time in order not to reduce the oil temperature too much. Place them carefully on paper towel to drain and add a pinch of salt. We are ready to serve the dish.


Ones you have poured the cream into a soup plate lay gently few pieces of fried beard and some drops of fried batter to garnish the dish nicely. The idea is: keep a platter in the middle with some more fried beard fennel so that each tablemate can add some as they like. The result of the crispness and the smoothness is somewhat interesting.

Grandmother’s tip

When you want to flavour a dish using aniseeds it is advisable to grind them as a powder. This way the taste is nice and pleasant and you avoid having the whole seeds.

My own way

To make a regular batter you really need to keep it as cold as you can while dipping the vegetables. Some tend to put some ice in it; I personally prefer to lay a stainless steel bowl on a bigger container with icy water. This way you will manage to keep it ice-cold avoiding the melting of the ice that inevitably will dilute the batter changing its viscosity.

What is it?

Wild fennel (foeniculum vulgare) in Italian is called “finocchietto selvatico” and differs from the plain domestic fennel. The wild vegetable is about the size of a large onion, with a layered structure, a celery-like texture and an aniseed flavour. The wild plant has a smaller bulbous part and the feathery top is used as a herb.


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