It’s Fall! And I have accepted its invitation to return to my oven after a summer hiatus and get toasty in my fluffy [not particularly sexy] house-socks. I’ve yet to turn on my fireplace, but that’s next. I realize “turn on” my fireplace doesn’t exactly have the same warm & fuzzy connotation as fetching a log or better yet, splitting wood out back. It’s OK to take advantage of a few modern conveniences, right?
I have mad love for roasting and the concentrated flavors it produces. Fennel is first up this season, and why not give it an extra burst of flavor via the king of cheeses – Parmigiano Reggiano. I tried roasting the fennel two ways: cut horizontally on my mandolin and also sliced vertically as you would when wedging a tomato. Pictured here, the vertical style was my preference – it holds together much better and really showcases the golden brown hue and unique ribbons of texture.
Unfortunately, Joe is not so keen on Fennel – he picks up on the hints of anise and isn’t havin’ it. And he’s a smartie, so trickery rarely works. Take the oatmeal cookies for example. I subbed out dried apricots for the raisins and referred to them as granola cookies, because while wanting nothing to do with oatmeal, he loves granola. He immediately responded with – oh, you mean oatmeal cookies, no thanks.
But back to fennel. In the case of roasting fennel, it completely mellows out any hint of licorice and adds an amazing sweetness. It basically renders this superb and versatile veggie unrecognizable relative to its raw texture and flavor. And don’t forget to save your Parmigiano rinds- you can store them in the freezer to access whenever you need them! Tossed into a soup or stew, they will enhance the flavor and add a little extra umami-style depth.Print This Recipe
2 large fennel bulbs
kosher salt + freshly ground pepper
2 oz Parmigiano Reggiano
Adapted from Fine Cooking. Serves 4 as a side dish. Preheat oven to 450. Trim the fennel, quarter each bulb vertically and trim away most of the core leaving enough to keep it intact. Slice each quarter into 4 wedges. Spread the fennel wedges on a baking sheet leaving space between each to allow browning. Using a pastry brush, generously brush top side of each with olive oil. Sprinkle each with salt and a few grinds of pepper, and bake for 15 – 18 minutes or until almost tender and golden brown on the bottom. Flip each slice of fennel and slide back into the oven for another 10 minutes – remove again and sprinkle with grated Parmigiano. Return to oven for 5 minutes, or just long enough to melt the cheese. Cook time will vary depending on the size of your fennel bulb. Save the fennel fronds to use as a garnish if you’d like.