Baked Fennel

Fennel is one of the green vegetables that offers the most. The bulb, the leaves, its great seeds, everything is special about it. A very, very old fellow, it’s a native of the Mediterranean but it also grows well in places like our sunny California. It has a bit of anise, a bit of dill, a bit of licorice, but it’s finally unique in its warm, involving, almost cozy aroma.

This is a super-simple first course, where every ingredient is at its best.
In choosing fennel, avoid bulbs that are browning and look for those that are most fresh and aromatic.

4 fennel bulbsparmesan cheese (never pre-grated)
Apollo Sierra

Remove the top of the bulbs (where the leaves are). Save a few leaves for garnishing at the end.
Cut the bulbs into eighths. Remove the tough parts at the base.
Steam them until soft.
Salt them and bake for 20 minutes in a 350F oven.
Shave the parmesan on top of them
Let cool for 10 minutes
Add a touch of fresh pepper
Garnish with a couple of tbs. of chopped leaves

Drizzle generously with Apollo Sierra. One option is to add a bit of lemon when you bake them and even a dash of lemon zest along with the pepper and the cheese. To me, the always enchanting taste of the fennel is so rich that I prefer not to interfere much with it. If you don’t find a good parmesan, go for a grana padano or an aged pecorino (pecorino staggionato).