This side dish goes well with lamb, and it makes a nice vegetarian lunch dish on its own. Use 2 fennel bulbs if your casserole dish is small or narrow.
If desired, preheat the broiler after the cheese has been sprinkled on top of the baked casserole; place the dish under the broiler for a few minutes, until the cheese is nicely browned.
Servings: 4 - 6
- 2 or 3 medium fennel bulbs, trimmed and quartered
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 8 small (16 ounces) plum tomatoes, peeled, cut in half lengthwise and seeded
- 1/2 cup (2 ounces) freshly shredded or grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, preferably not the finely grated kind
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Have ready a medium casserole baking dish (6 to 8 cups).
Bring a large saucepan of lightly salted water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the fennel and cook, uncovered, for about 10 minutes, until it is tender. Drain and toss in a medium bowl with the butter until the butter has melted.
Spread the fennel in the casserole dish, cut sides up, so that it will cook evenly; season with salt and pepper to taste. Scatter the tomatoes around; season them lightly with salt and pepper, too. Bake, uncovered, for about 30 minutes, until the tomatoes have softened. Transfer to the stovetop (not over any heat) and sprinkle the cheese on top. Let the casserole rest for 5 minutes before serving.
Adapted from "Bake Until Bubbly: The Ultimate Casserole Cookbook," by Clifford A. Wright (Wiley, 2008).
Tested by Sarah Meyer Walsh.
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