Healthy is a Lifestyle.

“I’ll tell you what I want, what I really really want”… more fennel pollen please.

It’s so good. I thought I was overdoing it because I was literally dusting everything with Fennel Pollen, but turns out Forbes magazine called it “1 of the top 10 food trends” and The Wall Street Journal  called it “Culinary Fairy Dust”. Who knew? Not me! This is a fairly new find for me, but I totally get why locavores/foragers and chefs love it.

I was introduced to fennel pollen by my client Heidi, who is a true foodie. She gave me a great recipe for a sable fish dish that called for fennel pollen and I had to ask her, “what’s that?” She gave me a half jar full, and the rest is history.

I’m sure its uncool to say that you can use this spice on anything, but I’ve never been too worried about being that cool. YOU CAN USE IT ON ANYTHING. Seriously, though. Fennel Pollen is an incredibly powerful spice that carries notes of licorice and citrus. It can tread wherever fennel and anise do when you want that flavor more pronounced.

I’ve used it with roasted chicken and pork. I’ve used it with salt in a dry rub on meat or just dusted it on top of cooked meat right before serving. It’s so great on cold summery soups, or on wintery roasted vegetables. I absolutely love the flavor it adds to a simple salad. In fact, as I’m typing this, I’m eating an avocado, tomato, cucumber salad tossed in a light vinaigrette seasoned with a pinch of salt and fennel pollen. Grains of all types take well to fennel pollen, too. Quinoa, crusty toasted sourdough bread with butter… mmmmm!!! Pasta, too! I bet a spaghetti dish tossed in olive oil with orange zest, mint and fennel pollen would be delish. Gonna try that! See? It’s super versatile and really compliments so many different dishes.

A little FYI.. Fennel Pollen is usually hand collected from wild fennel, which grows like mad in Italy and California (where it was originally planted by Italian immigrants). The blooms are dried and sifted and sold as the world’s third most expensive spice behind saffron and cardamom.

But have no fear, you can find great affordable brands on line today.

I order from a place in California named Pollen Ranch Spices. www.pollenranch.com.

Not only do they have affordable high-end quality fennel pollen, but they also have a variety of different salt and spice mixes around fennel pollen and dill for all your cooking needs. The Spice House is another great place to find high quality spices. www.thespicehouse.com

The trick to fennel pollen is not to overuse it. A little really does go a long way, and even a gingerly pinch may be too much to start off with. So, go slow, add with care, and use mostly towards the very end of cooking so as to preserve its flavor.

And then let me know what you think, how you used it and your new favorite way to incorporate it into your dishes.

Stay spicy out there.

xo