As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of Rustic Italian Food to give away this week.
There is a lovely simplicity about this Fennel Gratin from Marc Vetri's Rustic Italian Food. Just a few ingredients and no fancy technique, the caramelized slices of fennel cook down sweet and soft in olive oil with the finely grated Parmesan and pepper flakes crisping up on top.
Served alongside a roasted whole fish or lamb shoulder (recipe coming later this week) it's the kind of dish that shows the best kind of restraint, no need to overthink or overdo, just let a few ingredients really shine.
Why you should make this: So simple but so good, this fennel cooks down to sweet, spicy, salty goodness making for a side that is poised to take center stage.
Next time we might think about: If the red pepper flakes-olive oil-Parmesan combo works so well on fennel, we're wondering how it would fare on other sweet veggies like carrots or turnips.
Reprinted with permission from Rustic Italian Food by Marc Vetri, copyright © 2011. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc. Available wherever books are sold. All Rights Reserved.
- 2 fennel bulbs (about 2 pounds), fronds trimmed and reserved
- About 2 1/2 cups olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 1/4 teaspoons red pepper flakes
- 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Trim the base of the fennel and remove all dark and light green parts down to the white bulb. Slice each bulb in half lengthwise. Cut each half lengthwise into 4 wedges and remove the cores. Lay the wedges on a rimmed baking sheet and add olive oil to a depth of 1/4 inch. Sprinkle each wedge with a pinch each of salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes. Top each with about 1 teaspoon of Parmesan.
Bake until fork-tender, about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool in the oil until just warm.
Using a slotted metal spatula, transfer the fennel to plates and garnish with the reserved fennel fronds.