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.
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.
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.
1 large fennel bulb
1 lemon or 1 lemon and 1 clementine
juice from the ends of the lemon and clementine
homemade seasoned salt made with garden herbs or kosher salt and minced fresh rosemary
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.