Monday, March 11, 2013

Baked Fennel Two Ways

 If you wait long enough, everything comes into fashion -- even culinarily speaking. I grew up eating things that most Americans had never tried, much less heard of, and today they're as common on restaurant menus and home kitchens as hamburgers and French fries. Think of squid, polenta, broccoli rape and fennel, to name a few. Fennel was always on our holiday table, and even now, I can picture that oval stainless steel serving dish, brimming with raw fennel, carrots, celery sticks and marinated mushrooms.

 I don't ever remember eating it cooked however, until I was an adult. But baked or roasted fennel is now my favorite way to eat the vegetable. In a nod to readers who asked for more vegetable recipes, here are two that are quick and delicious. The first is a fennel gratin and the second is roasted fennel.

For the fennel gratin, I cook the fennel in simmering water for 10 or 15 minutes on the range, in an ovenproof casserole. When you're trimming it, keep the bottom part of the bulb intact so it doesn't fall apart. Cook until tender and carefully drain the water.

 Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture over the top and place in a very hot oven until browned

Careful not to keep it in too long or it could easily burn the bread crumbs. Garnish with fennel fronds.

 For the roasted fennel, I was inspired by my fellow blogger Stacey Snacks. She makes it almost the same way, but adds olives. Unfortunately, I didn't have any in the house when I made this, but I would definitely add them next time. I only had a half a lemon, so I also threw in some slices of clementine and squeezed a little juice from the citrus fruit on the fennel before sloshing with olive oil and herbed salt. The herbed salt was homemade, and if you don't have any, I recommend you use a little kosher salt with some minced rosemary, easily available year round at the supermarket.

  As Stacey says, it's addictive.

Fennel Gratin

printable recipes here

1 large fennel bulb

1/4 cup panko or other bread crumbs

1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated

2 T. parsley, minced

rind of 1/2 lemon

2 T. lemon juice

3 T. melted butter

Cut the fennel into thick slices. Don't trim off the core. It will soften as it cooks. Place the fennel in a casserole that can be used on a range top and in an oven. Cover the fennel with water and bring to a boil. Place a lid or aluminum foil on top of the casserole and let the fennel simmer lightly until cooked through. It should take no more than 10 to 15 minutes. Take off the burner. Carefully drain away the hot water. Arrange the slices in the casserole and drizzle with the lemon juice and 1 T. of the melted butter.

Mix the panko, parmesan cheese, parsley, lemon rind with the remainder of the melted butter.

Place in a 425 degree oven, uncovered and bake for about 10 to 15 minutes, until the topping is golden. Garnish with some of the fennel fronds before serving.

Roasted Fennel

1 large fennel bulb

1 lemon or 1 lemon and 1 clementine

juice from the ends of the lemon and clementine

olive oil

homemade seasoned salt made with garden herbs or kosher salt and minced fresh rosemary


olives, optional

Slice the fennel into thick slices (about 1/4 inch thick). Place on a baking sheet that's been oiled with olive oil. Drizzle more olive oil on the fennel, and squeeze the juice from the citrus fruit ends over the fennel. Then sprinkle with the seasoned salt. Place slices of lemon and oranges in between the fennel slices and if desired, olives.

Bake at 425 degrees for 1/2 hour then flip over and bake another 15 minutes. Use your judgment on the time and keep an eye on it because it could easily burn, depending on the size of the slices.

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  1. Fantastic! That is a vegetable I very much like. Both versions look amazing and mouthwatering, but I have a slight preference for the gratin.



  2. Adorabili davvero! Complimenti, un accostamento che adoro :)) Un bacione, buon inizio settimana!

  3. Everything old is new again. No jive. And thank heaven for the fennel resurgence. At home we ate it raw - shaved into salads. My mom never eposed it to any kind of heat - wet or dry.

    That wonderful fresh taste brings back memories of mucnhing on fennel that we picked on our walks home from school. It grew wild in our neighborhood. That's a far cry from today's kids gobbling Reese' Pieces and Doritos.

    I have never boiled, sauteed or roasted, however I have always enjoyed it when it's been served to me - particularly roasted. It caramelizes up to a positively delectable sweetness. You've convinced me to "try this at home." Complimenti!

  4. mi piacciono moltissimo i finocchi e cerco sempre delle buone ricette, grazie infinite! Un abbraccio e felice settimana!

  5. Hello Mrs. Fennel,
    I just bought another stalk for roasting. I am addicted! (and I love it in Donatella's chicken stock).

  6. On a local cooking show segment that was on this past weekend they were talking about how very popular fennel is now among chefs and that so many are using it more and more. I have to say I enjoy it roasted more than raw, although I do like it that way. I'm so excited to try your version with the oranges roasted along side, fantastic idea and I love the visual, then I'll make your gratin, that's calling my name too!

  7. What? You didn't have olives???? I love this. My cousin speaks of the lunch caponata sandwiches that her father made. I love how things go round - what was the peasant food of my youth is now too chic. I do love fennel both ways - and actually the idea of using some clementines resonates. Fennel never looked more welcoming.

  8. I know this might sound a little whacky, but here goes. The reason I don't make fennel is that the anise notes reminds me of a very bad experience from drinking too much Ouzo (when I was very young and stupid). I need to get past that, because I love gratins. That's the version you showed that I would like to make. I think it'll erase all those silly bad memories.

  9. I love fennel but have not tried baking it. This look delicious!

  10. My husband's family only served fennel raw, and used it as a digestive after a large meal, along with fruit and nuts.

    I love to bake fennel with a firm white fish such as halibut or swordfish. It imparts a wonderful flavor to the fish. Adding some citrus slices along wit the roasted fennel is a marvelous idea!

  11. I never heard of fennel growing up. I'm so glad I know it now! Both of your recipes for baked fennel sound wonderful.

  12. I still love to eat fennel raw, in salads or even just sliced , as 'dessert'. But you're right, cooked fennel has a wonderfully mellow, sweet taste that's hard to resist.