A beautiful display of fennel started an obsession that treaded its way through my week, waking me at night, stalking through the internet and finding its way into a ridiculous number of salads and braises at work and at home. Fennel isn’t always available, yet alone plentiful or affordable in my corner of the world, so it seems ridiculously important when it is, that I come up with ways, to use it to its best advantage. That is the nature of my obsession! I still have a note pad of ideas waiting to try, but after way to much headspace and time spend on pondering the best uses for the noble fennel bulb, I have a couple of ideas worthy of remembering and sharing now. I will share them one at a time, over the next couple of days so they don’t get lost at the bottom of the page.
This first recipe does have cream and parmesan in it, not everyday cooking or eating, but it tasted so good I think it is worth thinking about – at least once in a while!
This is a simple, but exquisite, braised fennel with cream, parmesan cheese and a hint of lemon. We ate this with some delicious free range pork chops, but I would have been equally as happy eating it with Puy lentils and a crisp green salad . Actually with the richness of this fennel dish a green salad with a sharp vinaigrette is a must, then you can feel happy and virtuous!
LEMON FRESH FENNEL GRATIN
Enough for four side portions
Pre heat oven to 200′ C and grease a small gratin (Baking) dish
- 4 medium sized fennel bulbs (fist size?)
- 500 ml fresh cream
- Approx. 80 grams of parmesan cheese finely grated
- 1/2 tsp fresh thyme or a pinch of dry thyme
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard ( or french walnut mustard – moutard aux noix – mmm!!!!!!)
- 1/4 finely sliced preserved lemon or zest of one lemon
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Optional 1 small clove of garlic
- Place your list items here
In a medium size bowl whisk to combine cream, mustard, preserved lemon or lemon zest, salt and garlic if using.
Finely slice your fennel bulbs, use a mandolin if you have one, or your best knife skills – or not. They don’t need to be wafer thin.
Finely grate parmesan cheese.
Layer all the above ingredients into you gratin dish finishing with cream and parmesan cheese
Cover with tin foil and bake for 1/2 and hour, then remove the tin foil and bake for a further 15 minutes (approximate time), until it is tender and golden.
Sadly this photo does it no justice but it was eaten before I could retake it. I am sure I will make it again and hopefully I won’t be so greedy and I will take a photo that does it justice. Served on a nice mat black dish it in some sprigs of fennel to garnish ………….so good.