Beyond the bulb and fronds, bright yellow fennel pollen has a bold anise flavor. Chef Sarah Heller of Radish Leaf Cuisine in Napa, California, uses it as a rub for roasted rack of spring lamb. The radish leaf pesto is a prime example of root-to-stem cooking: The peppery leaves, basil, almonds, and Pecorino make a vibrant, delicious topper for the chops when served.    Slideshow: More Rack of Lamb Recipes 

April 2018


Credit: Eric Wolfinger

Recipe Summary

30 mins


Ingredient Checklist


Instructions Checklist
  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high. Add radish tops and basil; cook 30 seconds. Drain greens, and immediately transfer to a large bowl of ice water. Once cool, drain well and squeeze out excess water.

  • Place greens, almonds, cheese, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a small food processor; pulse to form a chunky sauce. Add more lemon juice or salt to taste if needed.

  • Preheat oven to 400°F. Trim lamb rack to remove any pieces of silver skin or fat. Dry completely with a paper towel. Season with fennel pollen and pepper.

  • Heat grapeseed oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium. Season lamb with remaining 1 teaspoon salt. Add lamb to skillet, and sear until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer skillet to preheated oven, and roast until a meat thermometer inserted in thickest portion registers 135°F, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board, and let rest 5 minutes. Slice lamb between bones into chops, and serve with pesto.

Make Ahead

The radish leaf pesto can be made in advance and chilled for up to 3 days.