Fennel is my favorite summer vegetable this year. I’ve been using it in salads, dips, and now a veggie side dish that is interesting and YUMMY. Fennel is a member of the celery family. Its like if a sweet onion and some celery stalks met on eHarmony and had a hybrid delicious baby. It is crisp and sweet with a hint of anise — and is just plain awesome no matter how you prepare it.
When my husband has to travel for work and be gone for a few weeks at a time, I’m left running the household which I can do without any problems – except for the lawn. Fun fact about me: I’ve never mowed a lawn. I am imagining my grandfather in heaven shaking his head in embarrassment, – he still mowed the lawn with a cane when he was super duper old. BUT, I didn’t inherit that gene I guess because I have no desire to ever do this chore. My awesome neighbor Andy has offered to mow my lawn in exchange for me cooking their family dinner. I love this arrangement. I made this roasted tomato fennel dish last weekend and served it alongside sous vide steaks and cauliflower puree. A really awesome meal that was definitely worth a free lawn mowing. I hope you enjoy it as much as we all did.
- 2 fennel bulbs – stems and fronds trimmed off
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter
- 4 excellent quality Roma tomatoes
- 3 tbsp creme fraiche
- 3 tbsp pesto sauce (recipe)
- 3 tbsp chopped fresh basil
- 3/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
- Sea salt
- Fresh ground pepper
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Grease the bottom of a small oven safe dish (I use a 9×11 glass pan).
- Slice the tomatoes into 1/4 – 1/2 inch slices. Ensure they are uniform in thickness.
- Lay the tomatoes on a double or triple layer of paper towels and sprinkle with salt. Let rest while you do the rest of your prep.
- Slice the fennel bulb into 1/4 inch thick slices. See this recipe for details on slicing fennel.
- Heat butter in medium sauté pan over medium heat. When butter is melted add all of the sliced fennel.
- When fennel is soft (easily pierced with a fork) and has turned a bit translucent, add 1/4 tbsp pepper and 1/4 tbsp salt, creme fraiche, pesto, basil, and 1/4 cup of the shredded parmesan cheese. Stir for 2-3 minutes.
- Pour fennel mixture into bottom of baking dish and spread around until it is even and covers the bottom of the dish.
- On top of the fennel mixture in the baking dish, layer on the sliced tomatoes in rows to cover the fennel.
- Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup parmesan cheese and lightly sprinkle with fresh ground pepper.
- Place in oven for 20-25 minutes until bubbly on bottom (hence why its good to have a clear dish)
- Remove from oven and serve hot!