It’s spring time, let’s have a picnic? Dandelion and wild fennel balls.

dandelion and wild fennel balls


It’s definitely spring time: the sun, warm in the morning, burns the face at noon, the birds sing during the day, the frogs croak in the night, the trees freshen up their wardrobe and the first bumblebees fly around the blooming plants.

Along with spring it’s the time to renew my terraces. I therefore bought three cases of plants among which flowers – some of them rigorously edible −  climbing plants and aromatic plants for my personal vegetable garden (which is nothing more that the windowsill of my kitchen).
It took two days of work, likely because my son helped me, but at the end of the day having a green corner behind the window to take care of as a new member of the family is a great satisfaction.

And so, as

spring is a state of mind

and I feel so bucolic I decided that this Sunday I will organize a picnic!

Scrolling my cookbooks is search of inspirations I bumped – who knows if by chance- in an old volume of my husband’s aunt, a publication out-of-commerce for the readers of the magazine “Casavavia” of 1990 and entitled “Il prato nel piatto” (The lawn in the plate).
The book is exactly as cook books used to be: no images and many short recipes one after the other. A book addressed to a public of housekeepers, cooks skilled enough not to need many clues for imagining and recreating dishes out of the ordinary based on wild herbs.
Among the many recipes offered I found a couple of them perfect for a picnic , obviously to test and re-create my way.

I therefore started to look for the ingredients, all but easy to find in the city. Luckily I have a deep passion for wild herbs which I search for a very long time as a diviner search water in the desert. This helped me to create a precious list of contacts: greengrocers and farmers of the Genoa backcountry who “push” wild herbs grown spontaneously, strong enough to win alone the war against parasites and which can afford the luxury of tossing peaceful and pride in the shade of an olive tree.

As so I went straight there and yesterday I came back home with a huge plastic bag full of happy herbs!



Here below one of the recipes I prepared for my picnic which I wish to share with you.
Actually as outside the sun was shining and from the see a fresh wind was blowing, we did the picnic on my newly fresh terrace, by the way we already had the lawn in our plates!


dandelion and wild fennel balls

Dandelion and wild fennel balls


What you need:

150 g of white rice
50 g dadelion
50 g of wild fennel
4 egs
Bread crust
60 g of grated fresh pecorino cheese (or 40 g of parmesan cheese)
flour (better if rice flour)
peanuts oil (for frying)


How you prepare it:

1. Boil the rice in a big pan of salty water until it is al dente (it will take about 15/17 minutes), Drain it and lay it down on a plate and expand it with a spoon in order to avoit it goes soft. Let it get cold.

2. Clean the softer leaves of dandelion and boil them in salty water for about 5 minutes.

3. A side clean the leaves of wild fennel and boil them as well, in a separate pan, in salty water for about 7 minutes.

4. Drain and squeeze the vegetables, chop them finely (especially the dandelion with is quite strincy), add  2 beaten eggs and the grated cheese.

5. Add the rice, stir well, adjust of salt and pepper.

6. Shape many balls size of a walnut and then lightly flour them. Coat the balls in the remaining 2 beaten eggs and finally in the bread crust.

7. Deep fry the balls in hot oil  (better if peanuts oil), until they are gold.

8. You can also cook them in the oven, they will result lighter. In this case preheat the oven to 170°C, line a baking tray with baking paper, grease it with extra-virgin olive oil,  place the balls, and grease their top with some extra-virgin oil drops. Cook in the oven for 20 minutes, or until they are firm and golden.


dandelion and wild fennel balls

dandelion and wild fennel balls

Ciao! I’m Enrica

a home cook, food researcher and experience curator bred and born in Liguria.
I study, tell, cook, share and teach Ligurian cuisine and the culture surrounding it.
Here we celebrate Liguria’s gastronomic diversity and richness through its recipes, producers, traditions and shops.

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