Italian cuisine is one of my favorites!! I find it super rustic, but in a romantic sort of way… Now, don’t get me wrong, I love French cuisine, that is not romantic in a sort of way, heck’s fire that is just super charged romantic!!! Since I have worked at Michael’s Genuine Food and Drink, I have grown to LOVE fennel:) It turns out that everyone I know loves fennel too… they just don’t know it until I serve it to them:) At Michael’s I put fennel in some of the salads, and with the wood fire whole fish. Oh, that fish was an awesome dish. First the fennel was roasted in the wood fire oven. Then lemons are cut in half and grilled on the grill until they have nice black grill marks on them. Then the fish ( which was FRESHLY caught.. like a few hours ago..) was stuffed with thin slices of lemon & sprays of parsley then it was squirted with some extra virgin olive oil and sprinkled with smoked fleur de sol and freshly ground pepper, then place in the wood fire oven to roast. When the fish was done it was placed on a large platter, then sprinkled with a little more smoked fleur de sol and fresh pepper and then the culinary fairy dust.. the fennel pollen. Then the fish was squirted with a bit of extra virgin olive oil… plated with two grilled lemon halves, some roasted fennel and a bit of fresh arugula OHHH that was… is a tasty dish!!! Anyway.. back from memories from my internship… fennel.. Fennel is super versatile. You can use it raw in salads or roast or bake it for a really mellow flavor. Since fennel’s flavor profile has such a range, it is a must try for any foodie! I made this recipe when I was inspired by an Italian book that had reasons fennel why was so fantastic & based the fact that I love fennel & I love Parmesan cheese.. AND I found an official Italian name for this dish…
a little ps.. the photo at the top of my blog is of a fennel salad with apples, gray sea salt, extra virgin olive oil, edible flowers and mandolined fennel bulb:)
So here it is
Finocchio Gratinato aka Baked Fennel with Parmesan Cheese
(adapted from Italian)
- Fresh fennel bulbs (I had a huge one so I only used one.. but I would recommend about 2 or 3 normal sized fennel bulbs more of course if you are going to have company.)
- extra virgin olive oil
- kosher salt
- REAL Parmesan cheese
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
Then wash your fennel. On a cutting board with a sharp knife cut the top off the bulb. Save the top for another use. It is really tasty just raw, or roasted or sliced with a mandoline… or juiced.
Then fill a medium sauce pan with water. Add enough kosher salt to the water to make it salty.
Then place your fennel bulbs in the water. (If you have a huge bulb like mine, cut it in half then place in the water.)
Turn the heat to high, once the water starts to boil, turn it down to a simmer.
Let the bulbs simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes. Turn the bulbs every 8 minutes or so. (You want them fork tender.)
Meanwhile, prepare your baking dish. Squirt a little extra virgin olive oil and swirl to coat the bottom of the dish.
Also, grate your Parmesan Cheese with a grater. Normally, I would grate this with a microplane but I like the bigger pieces that are a result of the grater.
Once fork tender, take the fennel bulbs out of the water. (This water would make an awesome addition to a vegetable soup or to mashed potatoes or turnips.) Place fennel bulbs on a cutting board.
Cut the fennel vertically, into 2,4,or 6 pieces. ( This depends on the size of your fennel, most fennel bulbs will be 2 or 4 pieces- you want pieces the size of an apple slice you would dip into caramel. )
Place the fennel bulb pieces in the prepared baking dish. Lie the pieces on their sides.
Then sprinkle enough Parmesan Cheese to cover the fennel slices.
Then squirt with a little extra virgin olive oil.
Place the dish in the 400 degree oven.
Let it bake for about 20- 25 minutes, until the cheese is completely melted.
Then serve:) This makes a lovely side for any Italian dinner ( or any cuisine) it is a light dish despite the Parmesan Cheese:)
Here is a really cool website all about fennel called Fennel Friday- http://fennelfriday.com/health-benefits-of-fennel/
Fennel has many health benefits:) It is one of those nutritiously fantastic foods that is nutrient dense and caloric empty… ( unfortunately too many people eat the opposite way- caloric dense and nutrient empty ..) Fennel is high in fiber, yet it does not cause gas or bloating, in fact it has anti- gas properties. Fennel is also high in Vitamin C, Manganese, Molybdenum, Potassium and Folate You can read more about fennel’s fantastic properties here at http://www.naturalhealth365.com/tag/fennel-health-benefits
Here is a chart about fennel from the World’s Healthiest Foods Website ( this website is an excellent place to find information about foods that are good for you.) … http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=23
1.00 cup raw
|vitamin C||10.44 mg||17.4||11.6||excellent|
|fiber||2.70 g||10.8||7.2||very good|
|potassium||360.18 mg||10.3||6.9||very good|
|manganese||0.17 mg||8.5||5.7||very good|
|folate||23.49 mcg||5.9||3.9||very good|
|molybdenum||4.35 mcg||5.8||3.9||very good|
|vitamin B3||0.56 mg||2.8||1.9||good|
Density>=7.6 AND DV>=10%
|very good||DV>=50% OR
Density>=3.4 AND DV>=5%
Density>=1.5 AND DV>=2.5%