Cooked fennel has quickly become one of my favorite vegetables.
Notice the emphasis on cooked.
Still not a huge fan of the licorice-y flavor of raw fennel, but when it’s cooked, my oh my, it totally transforms. It becomes savory, tender, and almost onion-y, without the slightest hint of its sharp raw taste.
This is what fresh fennel looks like:
Bulbs, stalks, fronds, and all.
I prefer to buy it like this, in its whole form, so I can tell how fresh it is. Often times stores cut off the stems and fronds when they are wilting & sell just the bulbs.
Plus, you can do so many yummy things with the stems and fronds!
I love chopping the fronds and tossing them into pasta with sausage, or using the stems in place of onions, celery, or even leeks (recipe coming soon!).
But back to the bulb.
Before you roast fennel, it’s important to cut the bulbs in half and use a sharp knife to cut out the tough core. It’s easy to spot inside the fennel, it looks like a solid white pyramid in the bottom-center of the fennel bulb, very similar to the core inside heads of cabbage. The core is tough & won’t become tender like the rest of the bulb will, so it’s best to cut it out.
Once the core has been removed, you simply slice the fennel bulb just like you would an onion. You could also just roast the halved bulbs, but they literally take over an hour to get tender, so I prefer to roast them in slices.
I’m a firm believer that parmesan makes everything better.
Especially when you roast it in the oven and turn it into golden crispy bites of goodness. The crispy cheese pieces coat the tender fennel, and turn every bite into something awesome and delicious.
The best perk?
You can totally make this on a weeknight. Prep first, pop it in the oven, and let it cook while you simmer some brown rice pilaf and cook a protein main. Yummy. Easy. Whole food. Winning.
- 2 large fennel bulbs, stems removed, bulbs cut in half & cored, then cut into 1 1/2 inch slices
- Generous drizzle of olive oil (a few tablespoons)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper (to prevent sticking), and add the fennel slices to it.
Drizzle the fennel with olive oil and sprinkle with the salt, pepper, and parmesan cheese. Use your hands to toss and coat every slice. Spread the fennel slices out evenly and place the baking sheet in the oven. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the fennel slices are fork tender & slightly caramelized, and the parmesan cheese is golden and crisp.
Use a spatula to remove the fennel & crispy cheese bits from the parchment paper & serve.