Monday, 4 February 2013

fennel, pernod and broccoli pie

'...quite simply the best pie you've ever made...' The Viking...

... as you know i'm kind of obsessed with that aniseed flavour that you find in fennel... it's like a warming and gentle hug that populates your nose, throat and stomach as you eat it.  It has a natural savoury sweetness that compliments fish and fatty meats really well and I still find it to be an unusual taste, even after all this time... I also love the aniseed kick from the fennel seeds as well as star anise and of course that wicked french liquor, Pernod... although I cannot abide liquorice... absolutely hate the stuff. Funny, aren't we, us humans?

... i've cooked with Pernod before with my Pea and Pernod Risotto but here i've created a very sophisticated and strictly adults-only vegetarian pie... and I know that aniseed get's a mixed reaction from a lot of you out there but I think it's for the same liquorice-hating reasons that I have, so let me assure you that this is a subtle depth of flavour that surpasses that nasty liquorice hit and gets you somewhere else instead... some nice culinary place in your tummy that says 'thank-you.'

fennel, pernod and broccoli pie with a parmesan pastry
the good people at Mermaid have been busy spreading the love and recently sent me a few things to try, one of which is their 8inch Round Pie Dish from their baking range.  It's made from hard anodised aluminium so it's essentially the bakeware that Superman would choose because not only is it scratch resistant (perfect for digging out those stubborn slices of pastry) but you can throw it across the room in a fit of rage without it denting*... who could ask for more?

*don't try this at home (with regular bakeware...)

for the pastry
8oz plain flour
4oz butter
2oz grated parmesan (or vegetarian hard cheese)
cold water

for the filling
2 tablespoons flour
2oz butter
half a pint of milk and vegetable stock mixed (you can use the water from the broccoli and a little milk)
4oz grated parmesan (or vegetarian hard cheese)

1 medium onion - finely chopped
1 fennel bulb - chopped
1 packet of mini broccoli spears, or a head of regular broccoli

a large handful of frozen peas

start with the pastry by crumbling the flour with the butter in a large bowl until you have breadcrumbs, then stir in the grated cheese, use a knife to stir as you add a little water to bring it together, then in with you hands to form the dough... wrap in cling-film and pop in the fridge whilst you make the pie...

next on a gentle heat melt a little butter with olive oil in a pan and saute the onions and fennel until beginning to soften, then turn the heat up and throw in a teeny dash of pernod and let it bubble away entirely.

place the broccoli into boiling water and boil until beginning to soften, around 4 mins.  Drain but keep the water for stock.

take the onion and fennel pan off the heat, add the broccoli and frozen peas to this pan, stir and set aside.

make the white sauce by melting a large nob of butter in a sauce pan.  once melted, take it off the heat and add two tablespoons of flour and stir with a wooden spoon until it is smooth.  Place the pan back on a gentle heat and add a splash of the milk and stock mix, stirring all the time as it thickens... continue to add the stock and stir on and off the heat until the sauce thickens... there should be no lumpbs if you stir off the heat.  Once all the stock is gone add a splash of pernod and stir in, then let the sauce bubble away on a very gentle heat for five minutes or so as the flour cooks off... then add the grated cheese and  stir in.

flour your board then roll out the pastry... this pastry is very short so you may need plenty of flour and pat it out with your hand first before rolling.  Cut a circle to line your pie-dish, then re-roll for the top.

Line the pie dish with the pastry, then pour in the vegetables followed by the cheesy sauce.  Place a lit on top sealing with an egg wash, or use a lattice pie-lid like i've done.  Brush the top with egg wash and bake on 170C for 25 mins of until the pastry is golden.

eat and of course, enjoy!


  1. This is something I would never have thought on my own to make. Thus I am grateful to you for the marvelous idea.

  2. Well hello there dream pie! Mind if I have thirds?
    I love fennel too, and I love the theory behind growing it; it's the only bit of biodynamic stuff that I properly understand (grow after the longest day, when nights>day to ensure energy is stored in the bulb, if you sow before, the energy from the days>nights will produce flowers). I say I like the theory, because in practise I've never had much luck :-/

  3. Broccoli and pastry are three of my absolutely favourite things in life, if you include peas and onions, but you can keep the fennel and the Pernod.

    I've never been able to drink Pernod since watching the bad guys shoot one out of Lady Penelope's hand in Paris (my hand shakes whenever I try).

    Did the pie come with (proper) chips?

  4. What a gorgeous looking pie. Fennel is delicious anyway you eat it. I also love the lattice top.

  5. Can I get a bit tabloid on you ... cor! wot a stunner!

  6. I never tried such a combo, it looks awesome!

  7. With the Viking's recommendation, how can I not make this? It's funny because I have the same obsession with licorice-y flavors like anise and fennel but can't stand licorice candy either...go figure.
    Your lattice crust is beautiful.

  8. We love the aniseed flavours too and this pie looks amazing. What a great idea, we must try this soon.....have veggie friends coming to dinner this weekend, now there's a thought.

    But HOW do you get your lattice to look like that, without having several different strips all on the go at once? I have tried but it ended up looking like knitting. Do you give tutorials ??!!

  9. Hi, congrats for this great recipe, looks delicious and healthy. I personally like to include vegetables in all my meals, so if you´re interested I recommend the Mediterranean food, visit us to know more about it!



  10. You're so right about that warming taste of fennel. It's a taste that becomes addictive and this pie sounds ideal for a fennel lover like me. I have had items of bakeware thrown at me in the past - even if they don't dent, flying bakeware is still best avoided in my opinion.

  11. Dom, I'm not with you on this one, I'm afraid. Whilst I like the aniseed flavour in a drink occasionally (e.g. Ouzo, Raki) I absolutely hate it in cooked dishes. Just a personal thing... I know that lots of people love it.

  12. I love all aniseedy tastes including liquorice! This sounds a really intriguing pie, no sure I would have been drawn to it even though I like the flavours. However, I will take the Viking's word for it being the best pie you have ever made.

  13. This looks amazing! I love fennel - it's such an amazing taste. And creamy broccoli and peas with cheesy pastry is always going to be a winner too :o)

  14. "simply the best pie you ever made"? Is there any better statement to a cooks ears?? :) With that sort of intro, who wouldn't want to make this??

  15. Looks amazing Dom - your pastry is perfect! :)

  16. La tarta luce muy rico es una delicia al paladar me encanta quieroooooooo..... un trozo,abrazos y abrazos

  17. Fennel rocks as far as I am concerned Dom as does that pie! I expect you to make me one next time we meet up! Karen xxx

  18. Reading the title, I was a little intimidated, but having recently been given some wild fennel sherbet, I am convinced: this sounds awesome.


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