Parmesan roasted fennel is a new vegetable side dish in my repertoire. And it has very quickly become a favorite.
My relationship with fennel itself is a relatively short one. My mother didn’t really cook with it when I was young. And the very few and far between exposures I had to this really delicious vegetable were usually comprised of a nibble of the fronds, which carry a slight taste of anise. For those of you who do not know, anise is very similar in taste to black licorice. I really dislike black licorice.
Actually, fennel, anise and licorice root are not botanically related but are sources of similar flavoring compounds. So, I tried to avoid all three. I like fennel seeds well enough. It is a major flavor ingredient in Italian sausage, which I love. And it features in my pork roast of awesome goodness recipe. But I did not take my fennel consumption beyond that.
Then, when I worked in the Whole Foods Market headquarters in Austin, TX, I tried a salad in their seafood prepared food venue, and I fell in love. It was a salad served with grilled calamari steak, but the greens complemented the squid so well, I had to know what was in it. And slices of raw fennel, along with some baby field greens is part of what added a huge flavor component. And that is the only other way I have consumed fennel since.
Fast forward to about one month ago. One weekend, I made the calamari and fennel salad for Steve and I, and had most of a very large bulb of fennel left. I hated to waste it. Steve went back on the road and I Googled some recipes for other ways to prepare what was left of my bulb. I ran into a recipe by Giada De Laurentiis which intrigued me because it was so very simple. I tried it and was immediately hooked. There may be few ingredients, but they combine to make so many delicious layers of flavor!
I next served parmesan roasted fennel when Steve came home, and paired it with my beef tenderloin in peppercorn cream sauce. Then Steve was hooked as well.
So, when you go to the store and wonder what veggie side dish you can make that is new, delicious, and adventurous, grab some gorgeous bulbs and try this Parmesan roasted fennel.
let’s make parmesan roasted fennel
What did I tell you? Super simple ingredients. Of course, you also need salt and pepper. But that’s a given.
I probably used much larger bulbs than Giada did because she calls for 4 bulbs. I only needed 2 large ones. And, because fennel becomes sweeter after roasting, I like to add a little bit more Parmesan than she does. It gives the dish a little more salt and nuttiness.
Start by trimming off the stems and the rough root base off the bulbs. But don’t cut too much off the bottom. You want the bulb layers to stay together.
If you like, reserve some of the lacy fronds to chop for a beautiful green garnish when serving.
Then stand the bulbs on the root end and, using a very sharp knife, cut downward to make 1/3-inch slices.
Then toss in the olive oil and parmesan, seasoning with salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste.
Spread in a single layer in a large, rimmed sheet pan and bake at 375° F until golden and caramelized.
It should look like this.
Transfer to a serving bowl and take it to the table.
As you can see, I like mine very caramelized. But I have always been a fan of caramelized crunchies. If you prefer, you can take it out of the oven earlier for a little less crispiness.
I can assure you, however, that lightly or deeply golden, the taste is amazing! Moist and savory, finishing with a hint of sweet and nutty. Steve is now proclaiming it one of his top vegetable flavors in the world!
So, step out of your comfort zone and give Parmesan roasted fennel a try for your next meal. It pairs well with beef, chicken and seafood. You just can’t go wrong with it!
and during these social distancing days
With the neighborhood gyms closed and as we avoid leaving the house for other than the grocery store, I’ve been doing a lot of walking.
Steve and I are enjoying long power walks (about 3 1/2 miles) for a lot of reasons.
First, obviously, we need the exercise. We need to keep that cardio up!
Second, it gives us a chance to talk outside the home. It’s interesting to me that when we walk together, we end up discussing entirely different things than we do when we are home together.
Third, it gives us the opportunity to appreciate our beautiful neighborhood in Spring. We are blessed to live in a gorgeous part of the country. Our temps will get pretty warm in a few weeks, but right now, the outdoors is a sight to behold.
We’ve had rain, so the desert is in full bloom. Of course, so are our allergies. But getting out to see it is worth a little sneezing.
On one walk, I heard this little guy chirping loudly. When I glanced up, there he was. A gorgeous cardinal in all his glorious red plumage. What a treat!
And our golf courses are still open, although many public courses have been closed, I hear.
I hope all of you are faring well during these difficult times. What is keeping you occupied? Don’t be afraid to share in the comments below.
Take care. I wish us all the best until we come out the other side!
Parmesan Roasted Fennel
- 2 fennel bulbs large
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
- Fresh Ground pepper
- Preheat oven to 375° F
- Trim the stems from the fennel then trim off a thin layer of the hard base. Leave enough base to hold the layers together.
- Stand the roots on the root end and cutting from the top, slice the bulbs into 1/3-inch slices.
- Toss is a bowl with the olive oil, Parmesan, salt and pepper.
- Spread in a single layer on a large baking sheet.
- Bake until golden brown and tender, about 30 minutes using the convection setting, about 40 minutes using regular setting.