Tuesday, November 03, 2009

My own Top Chef challenge: Fennel

Along with trying to rely less on recipes, I'm also trying to cook with new ingredients. I have never cooked fennel before.

While this vegetable is not that popular in the States, it's huge here. You see it everywhere.

I saw chef Giada de Laurentiis cooked with it several times on her Food Network show when I lived in America.

I was at the market and on a whim I bought some.

I made her Roast Fennel with Parmesan.

This dish is so easy (I used slightly less olive oil) and absolutely delicious. The salty cheese works well with the sweet fennel. I will make this one over and over again and next time I might add some pancetta.

With such a simple dish the quality of the ingredients must be excellent.

You can find this recipe in Giada's fantastic cookbook "Giada's Family Dinners".

Roasted Fennel with Parmesan
4 tablespoons olive oil
4 fennel bulbs, cut horizontally into 1/3-inch thick slices, fronds reserved
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup freshly shredded Parmesan

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Lightly oil the bottom of a 13 by 9 by 2-inch glass baking dish. Arrange the fennel in the dish. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then with the Parmesan. Drizzle with the oil. Bake until the fennel is fork-tender and the top is golden brown, about 45 minutes. Chop enough fennel fronds to equal 2 teaspoons, then sprinkle over the roasted fennel and serve.

Not only does it taste good, it's a pretty dish. I forgot to sprinkle the fronds over it.


michelle | bleeding espresso said...

I've never roasted fennel either; they always just eat it raw here, which I don't *really* get into, but it's good every now and again. This sounds delish!

Simone said...

try thinly sliced fennel sauted with thinly sliced onions in olive oil - season salt and pepper and yummmm!

Diana Strinati Baur said...

Good job! I also pan sautee it in olive oil until it caramelizes to a golden color, then put gorgonzola on top and brown that off under the broiler. It's a delicious veggie.

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

michelle - it is. I don't really eat it raw that often. I have a slight allergic reaction to it raw.

simone - that sounds very good and easy. I'm going to try that.

diana - yum. gorgonzola is another thing I need to buy. I do eat in restaurants but have never made anything with it. I'm very excited about these ideas for fennel.

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

I haven't loved fennel, but I love just about anything roasted. Fennel was the "ingredient du jour" for a bit a couple of years ago and I felt like a *bad* cook due to my aversion. I might well try this version, though.

Anonymous said...

Try fennel and orange salad. It's yummy and refreshing. Thinly slice fennel, slice an orange, add a couple of chopped scallions, season with salt and red pepper flakes, drizzle extra virgin olive oil and some dry red wine (instead of vinegar). Grab a couple of slices of crusty country bread and enjoy.

P.S. You can also add some black olives to this.

dorina said...

oh yum! i have to look it up in my book! i always love giada's recipes:)

Los Angelista said...

It looks pretty on the plate. I wonder why it's not popular here. We stole all the other Italian food, why didn't we go for this one, too?

la ragazza d'oltremare said...

I grew up eating fennel so much I ended up *hating* it. My parents even kept fennel seeds in a shaker in our cabinets so they could put it in everything. It tastes like anise or licorice to me... *shudder* But I do enjoy it raw every now and then, or if it's in small quantities in food in the veggie form and not the seeds, I'll eat it. The seeds I can't even smell.

More for you all, I guess! Heheh.

Valerie said...

What Diana said! Love it baked with gorgonzola. But it's nice grilled with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar on it, too. Enjoy it - it's hard to find really nice fresh fennel around here.

Yvonne said...

I didn't become a fennel lover until I was 30 years old--raw fennel isn't my thing--but it's now a regular item in my shopping bag each month. Here's one of my favorite recipes for fennel, in a dish that even certain confirmed veggie haters I know love:

Cauliflower and Fennel Gratin

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

jen - it's almost sweet this version. Let me know how it goes if you try it.

anon - thanks for the recipe!

dorina - I'm a big fan of hers as well.

losangelista - I don't know. Maybe for the same reasons anchovies are not popular in the States? I love them now but as a kid I used to say I disliked them. Never mind that I never actually eat them. Not sure what that was about. ha

la ragazza - ha. Oh I can understand. Those seeds do have a strong aroma.

valerie - I don't think I ever saw fennel at the supermarket in L.A. Maybe because if wasn't on my radar? I assume it would be easier to find in New York or New Jersey.

yvonne - thank you! I will be cooking a lot with fennel.

Anonymous said...

You're welcome! I grew up eating this salad in Sicily as a child (especially on hot summer evenings) and continue to eat in the States. Hope you enjoy it.

glamah16 said...

I ma gradually coming to appreciate fennel.

Linda @ Ice Tea For Me said...

I love fennel just as you made it, roasted w/parm. Will need to try gorgonzola cheese as that is one of my favorites.

Is fennel expensive in Italy? Right now I'm paying ~$1.50 for one fennel bulb (average size) here in Arizona.

I'm trying to grow it in my garden, will see if that pans out.


nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

glamah - it's delicious.

linda - No it's not expensive here. I paid .40 for the bulb in the first pic at the Farmers Market.