Let’s be honest. When we find something that we love, it’s hard to stray far from it. I will forever be a Baskin Robins mint chip kind of girl, I only chew Bubble Gum flavored Trident, and yes I will buy that stripped top even through I have seven at home just like it. We want to be happy and safe, so trying adventurous new things can be daunting. Especially when it comes to home cooking! I could blame the fact that I’m Italian for always going back to the wonderful pairing of Marinara, Basil, and Balsamic Vinegar for my rut, or the fact that it’s just magical, but that’s hardly fair when there are so many delicious pairings out there!
I should know better too, being known for my crazy cake flavors and pairings, you would think I’d be more adventurous with my cooking explorations as well. Recently I’ve been getting bored with the same routine so I set out to buy only ingredients that I have never worked with before. I have this fabulous cookbook that my lovely Anya bought me for Christmas called Family Meal by Tyler Florence. I have made many recipes from this book and all have been complete and delicious successes. He has a recipe for roasted Fennel with mint, green olives, and feta cheese. But that got my mind working. I wanted to try something different than mint and feta. So I called upon my favorite book in my arsenal, Culinary Artistry by Karen Page and her husband Andrew Dornenburg. This book is FILLED with food parings. Oh my goodness, I have never read or seen anything as inspirational as this book! So I flipped to the page on Fennel and it had a list of over 25 pairings! The ones that jumped out to me where tomato, garlic, onion, lemon, black pepper, parmesan cheese, and potatoes. So I set out to combine Tyler Florence’s cooking process with the parings from Culinary Artistry, and let me tell you what…I can’t even, there aren’t any words it was so delicious! The lemon makes the dish lively, potatoes were like silk, the fennel is sweet and mouth watering, and the saltiness of the parmesan pulls all the flavors together!
My roasting temperatures alway lean on the high side because I love the caramelized and heightened flavors that come from the more extreme temperatures. You will also have to bear with me on my measurements for my cooking recipes, because as I mentioned before, I’m Italian and the way I was brought up was go with your gut and throw in as much as seems right.
Roasted Fennel and Fingerlings (Yield, One hungry Guido)
- Fennel Bulb, halved & tough core removed, reserve fronds for garnish
- Two large Garlic Cloves, smashed, skin removed, and halved
- 1/4 cup Red Onion, thick slices
- Juice of half a medium Lemon
- 1 large vine ripened Tomato, quartered
- 5-6 Fingerling Potatoes
- Fresh Thyme
- Salt n Pepper
- Good quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Shredded Parmesan Cheese
- Preheat oven to 450F
- Take your Fennel Bulb and cut off the green stem then halve the bulb vertically. At the base of the bulb you will see a “v” shaped core, this is tough and unappetizing so cut it out following the natural “v” shape of the core.
- In a glass casserole dish toss in your fingerling potatoes, lemon juice, and 1-2 teaspoons of Olive Oil, using a wooden spoon stir the potatoes around until they are coated. Take your halved fennel bulbs and rub the cut side down around in the olive oil in the casserole dish. Turn the fennel over and season the potatoes and fennel with salt and pepper. Turn the cut side back down and roast for 30 minutes. Turn the potatoes over as they will get a nice sear on the bottom.
- Roast for another 5 minutes then toss in your garlic, onion, tomatoes, and a few sprigs of the fresh thyme. Continue to roast the veggies for another 15 minutes or until the onion and garlic are soft and beginning to caramelize.
- Pull the dish from the oven and turn on your broiler. Pull the sprigs of thyme and throw away. Carefully turn the fennel bulbs cut side up and evenly sprinkle the vegetables with the shredded parmesan cheese. Return to the oven and broil until the cheese is melted and starting to turn golden brown.
- Transfer to serving dish and garnish with the reserved fennel fronds!
- Bon appetite!
- The times posted are estimates, be involved in the cooking process and get a feel for the different stages the vegetables go through.
- Don’t be afraid to push the limits. Caramelizing vegetables deepens the flavors, so don’t be afraid of those darker colors and lines!
- Remember, the smaller you cut the garlic the more garlic-y it will taste. Leaving the cloves in larger sizes will make the garlic more sweet and not as overpowering.
- This dish pairs excellently with poultry and seafood/fish.
- For my Vegan buddies, I have not tested this recipe with Vegan Parmesan Cheese! But if you want to give it a shot and post your results here I would LOVE that!
- Cook with your ears and your nose, when you hear it crackling or when it begins to smell like heaven, that means it’s time to either go to next step, or that it’s ready!