Author Notes: This is a nice side if you have a little time. The fresh fennel really mellows out with the roasting, and the kalamatas and parmesan give the casserole a little oomph! - inpatskitchen
Food52 Review: Inpatskitchen has created a delicious and comforting gratin with this dish. The roasted fennel is soft yet not mushy, and becomes gently sweet. The parmesan and olives add needed layers of saltiness and umami. My cheese sauce was a bit clumpy, so my dish was not the belle of the ball, but that didn't stop me from polishing off two portions in one sitting! - hardlikearmour
Makes 4 side servings
- 2 large fresh fennel bulbs, cleaned and cut into 1- to 2-inch wedges
- 1/3 cup half and half
- 4 ounces mascarpone cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon ground fennel seed
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 1/2 cup grated parmesan, divided
- 10 kalamata olives, halved
- In a medium sauce pan, boil the fennel wedges in water for about 3 minutes. Drain and set aside.
- In a small saucepan, bring the half and half to a simmer, add the mascarpone, ground fennel, salt, and pepper and heat until the mascarpone melts. Remove from heat and stir in 1/2 cup of the parmesan.
- Arrange the fresh fennel in a smallish baking dish (8x8 or 10x10) and pour the warm mixture over top.
- Dot with the olive halves and sprinkle another 1/2 cup of the parmesan on top. Cover and bake at 350F for about 45 minutes.
- Raise the oven temp to 400F, sprinkle with that last 1/2 cup of parmesan, and bake, uncovered, another 15 minutes or so until you get a little browning on top. Serve nice and warm!