Fennel, Chiles, and Mint with Orzo


Fennel, Chiles, and Mint with Orzo | Salted Kitchen

If fennel entered a popularity contest, it would probably come close to last place. It’s not widely adored like broccoli or kale. It’s one of those vegetables that you look at and probably don’t know what to do with it. If you browse the recipe list on this site, you can probably figure out my love for fennel. Only cooked though. Never raw. Raw fennel is not my thing. Neither are those black jelly beans if you get my drift. That strong anise, black licorice flavor. We’ll leave it at that. However, when fennel is sauteed or roasted, its flavor is taken to a whole another level. In a good way. Like this recipe.


Fennel is mostly available from fall through spring. So right now is a great time to shop for them. I’ll never forget the time I sent Brockoli to the store for fennel. It took him like an hour to figure out what the heck he was looking for. He had no clue. Fennel…what’s that? Needless to say, he came back with the right thing thanks to Google.

mint serrano chile and fennel

Fresh mint and serrano chiles are the perfect pair to fennel. Just wait. You’ll see.

fennel and serrano chile

Did I mention Trader Joe’s had fennel for $2.49 for two? That’s buy one get one free in my book. Yeah, I do a lot of price comparisons among markets. Learned from the best. My Mom.

sauteed fennel and chiles

I can honestly say this is one of my favorite pasta dishes. The heat from the serrano chiles mixed with the coolness of the mint, and poppy seeds for a little crunch. It’s an unique dish packed with surprising flavors. It can be served warm or at room temperature, making it pretty versatile.

Fennel, Chiles, and Mint with Orzo | Salted Kitchen

Fennel, Chiles, and Mint with Orzo

adapted from Molto Batali

A 1/4 cup of olive oil may seem like a lot, but it will coat, flavor, and keep the pasta from sticking to each other. The mint darkens as you toss it with the pasta. I recommend adding it just right before serving. This dish can also be served at room temperature with a salad for lunch.

serves 4

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 fennel bulbs, trimmed and chopped
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 serrano chiles, seeded and sliced into thin rounds
1 cup orzo
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
poppy seeds, for garnish


In a large saute pan, add the oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and fennel. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until fennel is softened. Add the serrano chiles and cook for 2 to 3 minutes until fennel is golden. Turn off the heat.

Meanwhile, bring a pot of salted water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the orzo and cook for 7 to 9 minutes, stirring occasionally until tender, but still firm to bite. Drain the pasta and transfer to a large serving bowl.

Add the fennel mixture and mint to the bowl with orzo. Toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with poppy seeds and serve.

Vegetarian orzo dish with sauteed fennel, chiles, and mint. Garnished with poppy seeds.

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  • Reply crispyindeed March 27, 2013 at 10:30 am

    I have to try this sometime. Definitely something new!

  • Reply rosewithoutthorns March 27, 2013 at 3:08 pm

    Hello Jen!
    I never knew that Orzo pasta existed. At first I thought it was just plain white rice when i saw the pictures! I guess i learn something new everyday!


    • Reply lattesandleggings March 27, 2013 at 3:40 pm

      Hi Felicia! Orzo is great because it’s so light and isn’t heavy like other pastas. Perfect for warm weather :)

  • Reply Promenade Claire March 28, 2013 at 3:32 am

    I’m so pleased to see this recipe – a vegetarian recipe using orzo, I bought a packet recently and have been wondering what I should make, now I know. Thanks

  • Reply Mint Peas and Bacon Orzo Recipe | Nosh My Way April 2, 2013 at 10:30 am

    […] Fennel, Chiles, and Mint with Orzo […]

  • Reply katforhan April 19, 2013 at 2:48 am

    Sounds awesome! Anything with chiles and fennel is just fine with me..

  • Reply Orzo with Fennel, Serrano Chiles, and Mint | Savoy Truffles August 21, 2013 at 3:48 pm

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