My husband once met someone who grew fennel in his vegetable garden. When he asked him how he cooked the fennel, the guy responded that he used the tiny leaves for tea and discarded the bulb (!) Since then we’ve wondered how most people use this versatile and delicious vegetable. We see them in supermarkets all the time and it sometimes makes an appearance in magazines but we’ve never seen anyone buying them. Hopefully most people know better than to discard the good part!
This recipe is really easy and makes fennel a main dish or a very good filling side dish.
1 ) Fennel bulbs (5 – 6)
2 ) Cotija cheese (or parmigano)
3 ) Breadcrumbs with Italian seasoning
4 ) Olive Oil
5 ) Salt and Pepper
6 ) Butter (optional)
1 ) Cut off the top leaves and discard. Slice the fennel bulbs into thick slices. Put in a large baking pan and drizzle liberally with extra virgin olive oil, plus some salt and pepper.
2 ) Broil for about 10 minutes until the tops are slightly brown.
3 ) Cover the entire pan with aluminum foil and seal tightly. Tip: This is what makes it so easy. Normally you have to watch it and stir the fennel bulbs over to prevent burning. By covering it up and ‘steaming’ it, you can bake it and forget it for about 30 minutes.
4 ) Once the fennel is cooked thoroughly and softened up, take off the foil and add shredded cotija or parmigiano. If the fennel has shed too much water, take the time to scoop some of the water out of the pan. Then sprinkle breadcrumbs over the fennel, covering the entire pan. Spritz some water to keep the breadcrumbs moist. You can also mix in a slice or two of butter for flavoring.
5 ) Bake for another few minutes until the topping is brown and the cheese is nicely melted.