Winter is here! Well, the first snow fall is, at least. I woke up this morning to a flurry of snowflakes and immediately thought, "Comfort food time!" Although it's now bright and sunny again, I could still use some cheering up and there's a fennel waiting in my fridge, so fennel au gratin it is. Nothing says warm and comforting better than something cheesy and baked. Anything au gratin is fine by me but - and this might not be everyone's cup of tea - I personally love fennel because it's slightly fiberous and aniseed-y in flavour. This dish takes a little bit of effort and TLC but I always feel it's worth it by the time I'm bundled up in a blanket on the couch with a warm plate of gratin and hot mug of tea. Mmmm.
Fennel au gratin
1 medium fennel bulb
3 tbs butter
1/2 cup half-and-half cream
1/2 heavy cream
1/2 cup grated mozzarella or cheddar, or both
salt and pepper to taste
1. Preheat the pan to medium high. Cut off the base of the fennel and then cut the fennel into quarters. Remove the core of the fennel. You can see the core that is the whiter part of the bulb than the petals of the fennel, which are greener. Cut the quarters into 1/4" slices.
2. Preheat the over to 400F. Melt the butter in the pan. Add fennel slices and cook until slightly translucent and slightly browned, about ten minutes.
3. Place cooked fennel in a shallow baking dish. Add half-and-half cream and heavy cream, season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with grated cheese.
4. Bake for 30 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Let sit for about ten minutes before serving.