A couple weeks ago, Mat and I had a cooking class date night at Eatz LA. It was so much fun to do something out of the box for date night and even though I know my way around the kitchen, I thought it would be fun for Mat to learn something new and for us to do it together. It was Mediterranean night the day we went and luckily, a huge group of people cancelled last minute so we all got our own working stations. One of the favorite things that we made was a side dish of roasted fennel with Parmesan cheese. If you have never cooked with fennel, it is quite interesting looking and as soon as you cut into it, you get a fresh burst of the licorice aroma.
Adapted from Eatz LA
Makes 4 to 6 servings
4 tbs extra virgin olive oil, plus more for baking dish
4 fennel bulbs, cut horizontally in half
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese (plus more if needed)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly oil a 13 by 9 inch baking dish. Arrange the fennel in the dish. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then with Parmesan cheese. Drizzle with oil.
Bake until fennel is fork-tender and golden brown, about 40 to 45 minutes.
The green stems and fronds of the fennel are pretty useless and uneatable. After you chop them off, discard them or use the fronds as a garnish. Also, usually when I cook with fennel I would cut out the core of the bulb because it is too tough to eat. However since we are roasting them, the core turns tender in the cooking process. I left the outer part of the bulb in tact to keep the shape of the fennel bulb (sometimes that can be a little too fibrous to eat).
I always use freshly grated cheeses. It has way more flavor and I don't even know if the stuff in the green canister is really even cheese even though it says that it is real cheese. My rule of thumb is anything that claims to be the real thing of what it is supposed to be is always questionable.
This is the fennel before and after the roasting process. The cheese turns really nutty and the fennel is tender and delicious.