Fennel and Pine Nut Polpette


Polpette is an Italian meatball. In this recipe the meat has been replaced with roasted fennel and pine nuts – a most moorish combination of ingredients.

Fennel is highly prized for its licorice-like flavor and the myriad of health benefits it provides, and has been used in natural remedies since ancient times. The iron, phosphorous, calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc and vitamin K content present in fennel all contribute to building and maintaining bone structure and strength.

Pine nuts (despite their name) are actually not nuts, but an edible, nutrient-dense seeds that can replenish, revitalize, and rejuvenate the body. Whether you’re on a diet, want to reduce your risk of chronic illnesses, or simply want to add a crunchy texture to your meals, enjoying a handful of these seeds per day may increase your longevity.

Fennel and Pine Nut Polpette

Serves 2 as an entree



  • 1 small (400g) fennel
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 10 g pine nuts
  • 10 g pumpkin seeds
  • 1 1/2 cloves of garlic , peeled
  • 1/4 red chilli , deseeded and roughly chopped
  • 25 g parmesan (or use nutritional yeast to make it dairy-free)
  • 50 g breadcrumbs (or use ground almonds or gluten-free breadcrumbs to make it gluten-free)
  • 1/2 large egg yolk, lightly whisked
  • handful parsley leaves finely chopped


  • 400 g tin of chopped tomatoes
  • a splash of balsamic vinegar
  • dried basil
  • dried chilli
  • handful parsley stalks chopped
  • 1/2 clove garlic, sliced


  1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Trim and cut the fennel into 2–3cm wedges and lay out in a roasting tray. Add a splash of oil, season, then roast in the oven for 30 minutes.
  2. Sprinkle over the pine nuts and pumpkin seeds and pop back in the oven for 8 minutes, until the fennel is cooked through. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 5 minutes
  3. Place 1 garlic cloves and the chilli in a food processor and blitz until finely chopped. Add the fennel, pine nuts and pumpkin seeds, then pulse again until chopped but still quite chunky.
  4. Grate in the parmesan, then add the breadcrumbs, egg yolk and a pinch of salt and pepper. Pulse until everything just comes together.
  5. Drizzle a roasting tray with olive oil. With wet hands, roll the mixture into about 10 walnut-sized balls, then place on the tray and leave in the fridge for 15 minutes. Preheat your oven again to 200C.
  6. Drizzle the polpette with oil and bake for 20–25 minutes, until the balls are golden and crisp.
  7. To make a tomato sauce. Place a medium-sized, non-stick pan over a medium heat and pour in a glug of oil. Add the sliced garlic clove and add to the pan, along with the parsley stalks. Fry for 1 minute before pouring in the tinned tomatoes.
  8. Fill the tin halfway with water and add, along with the balsamic, then gently bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook over a low heat for 8–10 minutes, until thickened. Pour the sauce into a food processor and blitz until smooth, then return to the pan and keep warm until needed.
  9. Sprinkle with the chopped parsley and serve.

Time Saver Tip

  • You could replace the fennel with any other left over roasted vegetables (roast pumpkin or sweet potato would work really well) that you have.
  • Serve with a mixed leaf salad.
  • Make this meal go a bit further by serving with pasta.

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+ 20 gluten-free & dairy-free recipes
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+ An overview of smoothies vs juices
+ Time saver tips to set you up for success
+ A bonus printable shopping list to get you started.

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