Wednesday, August 27, 2008

An Autumnal Fennel and Tomato Gratin Recipe

I am slowly, but surely, warming to fennel. Until now I haven't been a huge fan of aniseedy flavours (and I still passionately dislike liquorice sweets), but I've discovered that fennel can be very tasty after it's been subjected to some heat treatment. Here's an easy autumnal vegetarian fennel and tomato gratin that made an excellent main dish, but would also work as a side dish to pork or lamb, or even some gutsy fish perhaps.

Any other hot fennel recipe ideas I should know about?

Fennel and Tomato Gratin
Adapted from this BBC Good Food recipe
Serves 4

2 large fennel bulbs (about 600 g)
2 Tbsp vegetable oil (I used cold-pressed rapeseed oil)
2 garlic cloves
400 g can chopped tomatoes

5 Tbsp dried breadcrumbs
50 g grated Parmesan cheese

Trim the fennel bulbs (remove outer tough layers) and cut into thin wedges. Keep the fronds for garnish!
Heat oil in a saucepan and add fennel. Season with salt, cover and sauté on a low heat for 15 minutes, stirring every now and then.
Add finely chopped garlic and cook for another 10 minutes, covered.
Now add the chopped tomatoes and simmer on a medium heat for 10 minutes, until tomato sauce has thickened. Taste for seasoning.
Pour into a medium-sized ovenproof dish, spreading the mixture evenly. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and grated cheese.
Bake in a preheated 200 Celsius oven for about 20 minutes, until the gratin is golden on top.
Serve, garnishing with dill-like fennel fronds.


Sylvie said...

I've been meaning to try cooking with fennel more often. This looks like a lovely recipe.

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

I feel exactly the same way about fennel -- don't like it raw, shaved into salads, but cook it and the sweetness comes out. I make a fennel and potato gratin (from Barefoot Contessa), which is wonderful with roast turkey.

Anonymous said...

Autumn? No, send it back, please!

Anonymous said...

I love fennel and am always searching for new ways to prepare it. This recipe sounds delicious, thank you!

Erin said...

Like others, fennel is something that has long lingered on the corners of my attention. I keep wanting to master it, to just throw myself into a week's worth of recipes on fennel until I finally understand it.

And this looks like a delicious way to start!

Anonymous said...

Fennel is such an under-used friend in the kitchen. This looks like just the right balance of hearty and delicate. Thanks for sharing it - I can't wait for autumn to arrive (here)!

pamela said...

I grew fennel successfully in Tanzania and Rhodesia both in the veg patch and the border (it is very decorative and trouble-free to grow), but have been unable to find seed here in Australia. Unless used as the focal dish it was just an accompanying vegetable and the favourite method of preparation was:- Halve or quarter bulb and boil until al dente. Drain well then cover with bechamel sauce with added chopped dill. Sprinkle with parmesan and sweet paprika and pop under grill for a few minutes.

Jeanne said...

I second Alanna - I'm still waiting for summer to arrive and I absolutely reject the notion that it might be autumn!!

Glad you're also discovering fennel - I also hate liquorice but love fennel. Try stuffing whole sea bass with it:

Or try this wonderful warm spicy chicken & fennel dish:

Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

I like that this is a simple, no fuss recipe. I like fennel cooked or uncooked. ;-)


Patricia Scarpin said...

Pille, this should be a first to me, too - I have only had fennel in salads, never in warm/hot dishes!
This gratin would make me happy right now - it's lunch time in Sao Paulo!

Katie Zeller said...

I've eaten it in salads, and grilled it on the barbecue but never tried it like this. The combination of flavors, with the tomatoes, sounds wonderful. Time to give it another try!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Oh, yeah, slowly but surely, you'll be a fennel lover.

Y said...

Beautiful dish! Love the colours. Fennel is one of my favourite vegetables. I like it raw in a salad, but it looks so good in this gratin, especially with the little fronds on top :)

NuKiwi said...

What a great idea...never thought of using it in a gratin. I have heaps of the stuff overtaking my veggie patch in the gaarden. I usually aute it with onions & garlic then add breadcrums to stuff chicken breasts or pork loin before roasting. Looks lovely!