Items you will need
- 3-4 medium bulbs of fennel
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Cookie sheet
Much like roasting other vegetables and meats, roasting fennel cooks the vegetable through in such a way that it becomes soft and slightly browned on the outside. The smell and the taste, however, are wholly unlike anything else you might roast, which will become clear as soon as you’ve tried it.
Preheat your oven to 425 F.
Trim your fennel bulbs. Cut off the stalks and fronds and remove the base. Don’t cut too deeply into the bulb when removing the base or you’ll make it difficult to cut your fennel into wedges in the next step.
Cut your fennel bulbs into wedges. Do this by first cutting each bulb in half, then cutting each half in half again so that you have quarters. If your fennel bulb quarters are still larger than you’d like, cut each in half again.
Toss the fennel wedges with the olive oil, salt and pepper on your cookie sheet. Make sure they’re evenly coated with the olive oil; use your hands. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper to finish.
Place the pan in a preheated oven for 15 minutes. Check the progress of your fennel to see if it requires more time. When your fennel is golden brown and soft, and your house smells almost unbearably delicious, it’s almost done.
Sprinkle fennel evenly with the grated Parmesan and place in the oven for 5 more minutes. Turn the oven off directly after placing the pan in, allowing these final five minutes of cooking to be conducted solely through the residual heat in your oven. Serve immediately, either by itself or with another dish. Roasted fennel goes well with almost anything.
Caramelizing fennel (or any vegetable) brings its natural sugars to the surface, which is what causes that vegetable to turn brown. You’ll also notice that it tastes sweeter than it did when it was uncooked.
You can save the stems and fronds of your fennel for decoration, or for use in salads later. Taste them first to see if you like their slightly sharper taste and woodier texture.
If you’ve got leftovers, use the roasted fennel to make a savory tart. You can also chop it into finely sliced pieces and throw them into a quiche, frittata, or even a simple omelet.
Fennel can be roasted alongside any other vegetables. Try it with zucchini, eggplant, mushrooms, and tomatoes, all wedged up into similarly sized pieces. Sprinkle with a little herbes de Provence or Italian seasoning, or drizzle with some good-quality balsamic vinegar for a Mediterranean treat!
Watch your fennel carefully as it gets close to being done. It only takes a minute or so for it to go from being lovely and caramelized to being charred and significantly less tasty.
- Leigh Green/Demand Media