Fennel is one of the vegetables that I love using in cooking because it can be enjoyed in practically any kind of dish, whether it's raw or cooked. Using it in salads is foremost on our table. The flavor is so mild and refreshing and it complements any other ingredient I mix it with. I just have a bad habit of munching on them while slicing that I need an extra bulb to make up for the lacking amount that I consumed.
The first finocchi gratinati (fennel gratin) that I tried of this kind was cooked by my mother-in-law. Mixed only with breadcrumbs and a lot of Parmigiano Reggiano made the fennel so tasty and light. Most gratin dishes usually have cream or milk in it but I prefer the simplicity of this dish. It doesn't clash with the food but instead complements the main dish it is accompanied with.
Please note that Parmigiano Reggiano is the only parmesan cheese. It is classified by the European Union as Protected Designation of Origin. It means that it is only produced in one area of Italy which is mainly Emilia-Romagna, nowhere else. Under Italian law, only cheese produced from this area can use the name Parmigiano Reggiano. If you click on the link to go to their official site, you will see the seal of Parmigiano Reggiano so you would know you are buying the real one.
I am telling you this because I once bought a chunk of parmesan in a gourmet shop in another country. The color of the cheese did not convince me that it was the real thing and when I tasted it, it was completely another kind of cheese. It was properly labeled parmesan but it was not produced in Italy.
The closest replacement you can use is Grana Padano, another kind of cheese produced in Italy.
Enjoy this quick and easy side dish. Hold out on the cream and enjoy the simple flavors of the ingredients.
Enjoy the rest of your week!
Finocchi Gratinati (Fennel Gratin)Ingredients:
- 3 fennel bulbs, chopped coarsely
- 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Parmesan cheese
- 3 tablespoons breadcrumbs
- 4 tablespoons (or more) extra virgin olive oil
- Preheat the oven at 180 degrees C (365 degrees F).
- In a baking dish, combine all the ingredients except the extra virgin olive oil, making sure that they are mixed well.
- Drizzle the extra virgin olive oil, making sure that the fennel are coated well.
- Bake in the the oven at 180 degrees F for 30 minutes or until the color becomes golden brown.