Roasted Tomato Fennel Gratin

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IMG_4492Fennel 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.

Ingredients:

  • 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

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease the bottom of a small oven safe dish (I use a 9×11 glass pan).
  3. Slice the tomatoes into 1/4 – 1/2 inch slices. Ensure they are uniform in thickness.
  4. 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.
  5. Slice the fennel bulb into 1/4 inch thick slices. See this recipe for details on slicing fennel.
  6. Heat butter in medium sauté pan over medium heat. When butter is melted add all of the sliced fennel.
  7. 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.
  8. Pour fennel mixture into bottom of baking dish and spread around until it is even and covers the bottom of the dish.
  9. On top of the fennel mixture in the baking dish, layer on the sliced tomatoes in rows to cover the fennel.
  10. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup parmesan cheese and lightly sprinkle with fresh ground pepper.
  11. Place in oven for 20-25 minutes until bubbly on bottom (hence why its good to have a clear dish)
  12. Remove from oven and serve hot!
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Laying tomatoes on paper towels and sprinkled w/ salt

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Chopped fresh basil

 

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Fennel placed into saute pan

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Pesto sauce

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Fennel in saute pan and adding basil, creme fraiche and pesto.

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Layering fennel mixture into baking pan

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Layering tomatoes and topping with parmesan cheese

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Final product!

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