I grew up eating my mom’s roasted fennel and loving it; but when I tried to make it on my own, after I moved out of my parents’ home, I just couldn’t get it to taste anywhere near as good as my mom’s. The trick: boiling the fennel before roasting it. If you skip the boiling step, the fennel will come out stringy and fibrous rather than sweet and caramelized.
I always make more than I need of this just so I can enjoy leftovers; you can chop up any extra fennel and warm it again as a sauce for pasta, or throw it on slices of focaccia topped with Mozzarella or Fontina and bake until the bread is crispy; or stir into beaten eggs with a splash of cream for a heavenly frittata.
- 3 fennel bulbs
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ cup (28 grams or 1 ounce) freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
Preheat the oven to 325°F (preferably set on convection ).
Rinse the fennel bulbs and cut the tops off each; reserve the feathery fronds to garnish salads or soups, and the stalks for stocks or as a base for roasting fish or lamb. Cut off about 1/4 inch at the bottom of each bulb. Quarter each fennel and cut out the fibrous triangular core from each quarter. Slice each quarter thickly.
Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil. Drop in the fennel and add 1 tablespoon of the salt; cover and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, or until soft and translucent. Drain, rinse under cool water, and drain again.
Place on 2 large baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Drizzle with the olive oil, and season with the remaining teaspoon of salt and the pepper. Toss with 2 tablespoons of the Parmigiano and then spread out on the baking sheets so the fennel is in a single layer if possible. Sprinkle the top with the remaining 2 tablespoons of Parmigiano.
Roast in the preheated oven for 45 minutes, or until golden brown on top and lightly crisp around the edges, stirring once in a while to promote even browning. Adjust the seasoning if needed. Serve hot.