I know I promised to post all kinds of fabulous holiday recipes for you over the last couple of weeks of last year, but I was foiled by a very nasty cold that lasted a full two weeks. Dinner parties were canceled and those that did take place were pared down. In my efforts to find super easy dishes suitable for serving to the family members visiting from out of town for the festivities, this recipe in a recent issue of Saveur caught my eye. I love the subtle earthy flavor of fresh fennel and I knew it would be a great match for our brown sugar-crusted Christmas ham. It was such an unexpected hit, and so unbelievably simple to prepare, that I made it again for New Year’s Eve when I served it alongside a hearty Roasted Garlic, White Bean, and Butternut Squash Cassoulet.
One of the things that delights me most about this recipe is that it contains just three ingredients (fennel, cream, and Parmesan cheese), along with salt and pepper, all of which are easily found at any decent supermarket. And they are three divine ingredients indeed. I highly advise planning a meal around this rich, earthy vegetable gratin.
Finocchio al Forno (Fennel Baked in Cream)
- 3 medium bulbs fennel stalks and leafy tops removed and discarded, cored, and cut into wedges
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 1 ⁄2 cups finely grated Parmesan cheese
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat oven to 425ºF.
- Spread fennel out in a 2 quart (7 x 10-inch) baking dish.
- Pour the cream over the top and add 1 cup of the cheese.
- Stir to combine, season with salt and pepper to your liking, and cover with foil.
- Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour.
- Remove foil, sprinkle remaining ½ cup of Parmesan over the top, and continue baking another 10 to 15 minutes, until the top is nicely browned.
- Serve immediately.