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
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.