Thursday, October 15, 2009

Creamy Baked Fennel

my deliciousness! If you have never had fennel, you should definitely try it. My grandmother introduced it to me a few years ago, and I have looked forward to buying it from the farmer's market each summer. It's mostly known as a spice, "fennel seeds", and has a licorice taste to it. You can also eat the bulb, or use the stalks like celery, and garnish with the fronds.

I found this recipe in a Rachael Ray magazine, and the first words out of Mac's mouth were, "This is a keeper!"

Salt and Pepper
2 large fennel bulbs, cored and cut into strips, plus 2 T. coarsely chopped fennel fronds
1 c. heavy cream
1 t. fennel seeds
1 t. grated lemon peel
1 c. grated parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. In a large nonstick skillet, bring 3/4 c. water to a boil with 3/4 t. salt and 1/4 t. pepper. Add the fennel bulb strips, cover and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Uncover and cook, stirring frequently, until the water has evaporated, about 2 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, bring the cream to a boil over medium-high heat; cook until reduced to about 2/3 cup, about 3 minutes. Add the fennel seeds and lemon peel, cover and let steep for 3 minutes; strain into a shallow 2-quart baking dish. Stir in the cooked fennel bulb strips and 1/4 c. parmesan. Sprinkle with the remaining 3/4 c. parmesan and bake until browned and bubbly, about 15 minutes. Sprinkle with the fennel fronds.