I have always loved fennel and the licorice taste that lingers around while eating it. Funny thing, I despise eating black licorice, I mean I almost gag at just the thought of it. But I love fennel in the worst way. Especially in soups. I truly think it is one of those spot on flavors that I just REALLY LIKE. Most people probably like it, or they don't. I can see it being one of those cut and dry type tastes.
Anyway, baked fennel sounded good, and creamy baked fennel mixed with Parmesan sounded even better. It's a great winter side dish and it went well with pork tenderloin. I think it would also be nice with baked ham or seafood. Oh heck it would be good with anything. It has a clean, rich taste, if that even makes sense. I guess if you've never had fennel that would not make sense...but to me, it does.
Overall, I'll make it again, when I find myself with some extra fennel bulbs. Which is often.
Ciao! (I always wanted to say that.)
Core and cut fennel bulbs into strips. Reserve some of the fennel fronds for garnish.
In a large nonstick skillet, bring 3/4 cup water to a boil with 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Add the fennel bulb strips, cover and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Uncover and cook, stirring frequently, until the water has evaporated, about 2 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, bring the cream to a boil over medium-high heat; cook until reduced to about 2/3 cup, about 3 minutes. Add the fennel seeds and lemon peel, cover and let steep for 3 minutes.
Strain cream mixture into a shallow 2-quart baking dish.
Stir in the cooked fennel bulb strips and 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle with the remaining 3/4 Parmesan cheese and bake at 450 degrees until brown and bubbly, about 15 to 20 minutes.
Sprinkle with fennel fronds for garnish.
Creamy Baked Fennel
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