Author Notes: I was asked to provide a vegetarian entrée for an annual neighborhood winter party that could be reheated after we all went on a bracing x-country trek. This dish came to mind with numerous fennel bulbs taking up room on the kitchen counter. I always have puff pastry sheets in the freezer, and so was inspired to experiment with the fennel and a stray Meyer lemon that evaded the marmalade pot. This dish has a pleasant sweetness to it, with hints of mellowed roast fennel flavor, a little kick of lemon, bursts of roasted garlic and some occasional surprises of salty feta cheese. This is a great vegetarian main, and the presentation at the table is stunning. —Bevi
Serves 10 to 12 sparingly, or 8 hefty servings
For the Caramelized Onions and Roasted Fennel and Garlic Cloves
- 2 large onions, peeled, halved lengthwise, and sliced thinly crosswise
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 2 fennel bulbs, quartered
- 1 head garlic, halved crosswise
- a few sprinklings of salt and pepper
- juice of 1/2 Meyer lemon
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Add olive oil and butter to a saute pan over low to medium heat. Add the sliced onions and saute lightly, making sure the onions do not brown. Saute for 10 minutes. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper, and saute for another 10 minutes.
- Add the sugar and continue to saute. Lower the heat to simmer, and stir the onions every now and then until they are inundated with caramelized flavor. Total cooking time 30 to 45 minutes.
- Meanwhile, roast the fennel and the garlic: place the fennel quarters and the halved garlic head on a baking sheet, and cover with 2 TBS. olive oil and a few sprinklings of salt and pepper. Place in the middle of the oven. Turn the fennel quarters and garlic with tongs every 10 minutes. After about 45 minutes, remove the fennel and garlic from the oven. Sprinkle with the Meyer lemon juice, mix well, and allow the fennel and garlic to cool. Keep the oven on.
- Squeeze the garlic cloves out of their casings, and mush with your fingers. Add to the caramelized onions and stir well. I used about 3/4 of the garlic and saved the rest.
To Assemble the Pastry Log
- 4 ounces crumbled feta cheese
- 2 tablespoons chopped fennel fronds
- 1 sheet puff pastry - Dufour is great; Pepperidge Farm will do; Trader Joe's is also good
- extra flour for rolling out pastry sheet
- paper thin slices of 1/2 Meyer lemon
- parchment paper
- Slice off the cores of the fennel wedges, and then chop the fennel into about 1 inch rough pieces. Mix the fennel into the caramelized onions and garlic, and stir in the fennel fronds.
- Sprinkle a little flour on your rolling surface. Roll out the pastry dough to a rectangle roughly 12" x 14" . Wipe off the baking pan you used to roast the fennel, place parchment paper over it, and carefully lay out the pastry sheet over the parchment. paper.
- Spoon the fennel and onion mixture onto the pastry sheet, allowing a margin of 1 inch all around the pastry sheet. Sprinkle the feta cheese evenly over the mixture.
- Carefully roll up the pastry lengthwise, making sure it is centered on the baking sheet.
- Brush the pastry log lightly with olive oil – just a bit. Place the Meyer lemon slices along the length of the log.
- Bake at 375 until the pastry appears golden – up to 45 minutes or even longer. Remove from the oven. The lemon slices will be crunchy and smell fragrant.
- Allow the pastry to cool. Use a serrated knife to slice the pastry – making each slice about the width of the lemon slice.
- Serve with a dollop of Greek yogurt and a fennel frond garnish. To reheat, place in oven or toaster oven at 300 for about 10 minutes. Do not microwave - the pastry will turn soft and mushy.
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Show-Stopping Holiday Main
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Fennel