As odd as it sounds, it seems I am allergic to celery. And so I often turn to fennel to add an extra flavor component in broths and sauces. I love the way the fennel bulb will caramelize offering a sticky sweet depth of flavor and I love serving it roasted in wedges alongside some equally simple chicken or fish. I generally tend to save the stalks and fronds for stock but decided to incorporate all parts of the plant into a pizza-type dish. The bulbs were roasted to a mix of tender sweet and crisp, sticky brown, the stalks were sautéed with leeks for a base sauce made with ricotta and the fronds are used as garnish. Orange, parmesan and roasted garlic seemed obvious pairings. This would also be delicious on a crusty, grilled baguette and I am 100% putting a fried egg on top of the leftovers. —savorthis
Preheat oven to 425°. Trim stalks from fennel and cut in half lengthwise. Cut slices 1/4" thick across each bulb half leaving a bit of the root end intact. Drizzle on some olive oil and salt and carefully rub between slices and all over bulbs. Rub garlic with oil as well. Put all in a baking dish in the oven. Flip the garlic after about 10 minutes and spread the fennel slices out slightly. Check the garlic after another 5 minutes or so and remove when soft, then chop. Continue to roast fennel another half hour (or until nicely browned), flipping over about half way.
Cut the fennel stalks in half and then crosswise into thin slices to measure 1/2 c. Do the same for the leeks to make 3/4 c. Rinse well and blot dry. Sauté in 1 T each butter and olive oil until softened and just starting to brown. Let cool.
When fennel is done, crank heat to 500°. Roll out pizza dough until it is very thin and brush with a bit of oil. If using baguettes, cut in half and brush with oil. Cook until crisp and just starting brown.
Mix ricotta, egg, leek mixture, garlic, salt and pepper. Zest the orange and fold in 1 T zest and parmesan. Mix 2 T orange juice, 1 t zest and 1T olive oil and set aside.
Spread ricotta mixture on pizza dough. Carefully cut root end off fennel bulbs and arrange slices on top of ricotta mixture. Put back in oven for 5-8 minutes until ricotta mixture starts to brown and feels set. Remove from oven, drizzle with orange juice mixture. Garnish with fennel fronds and black pepper. Also great with urfa or aleppo pepper.
Cut into four wedges and serve with a simple salad. At this time you can also add a fried egg, over medium per portion.