Baked Fennel with Pecorino
Until I tried this recipe, I used to think of fennel as strictly a summer vegetable, well, proved wrong again. I love fennel, even raw in salads, and I’ve always roasted it, but along with other vegetables to add to warm salads mostly. But there’s something about this way of preparing it that opens a whole other world of possibilities. For example, this fennel is delicious on the side of roast chicken, and you can cook it while your chicken is in the oven too. I think it’s something to do with the use of a bit of butter and the cheese – that’s what makes this dish warming in the winter and soothing in the summer.
Preparation Time: 25 minutes
Baking Time: 20 minutes
Serves: 4 to 6
About 1.5kg / 3.3lb fennel bulbs (normally this is about 4 or 5) – halved, stalks removed. Keep back the green feathery frons for dressing.
4 x tbsp unsalted butter
2 x tbsp Niolly Prat (Optional – I only use it if I have it in the house, I don’t go out and buy it specially for this recipe. You can also use white wine or vermouth, or exclude the alcohol altogether.)
50gr / 1.5oz. freshly grated pecorino cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Cook the fennel in a large pan of boiling salted water until softened, but not mushy. This should take about 20 minutes, it depends on the size of your bulbs.
- Whilst the fennel is boiling, set your oven to 200°C/400°F and use about a third of the butter to grease a roasting tray.
- Once boiled, drain the fennel and then cut each piece lengthways into 2 or 3 thick slices. Lay out in the roasting tray.
- Drizzle the Noilly Prat over your fennel (if you’re using it), dot the rest of the butter over and sprinkle the cheese. Give a few grinds of fresh black pepper and a pinch of salt (not too much, the water for your fennel will impart a little salt and pecorino is a salty cheese).
- Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes or until the cheese and butter have become golden brown.
- Sprinkle over the fresh fennel frons before serving.
Tips and Variations
- An excellent side dish to fish or chicken.