Spring is in the air, daffodils are in bloom rubbing shoulders with crocuses, snowdrops and primroses. The birds are chirruping and there’s a warmth to the sun even if there is still a nip in the air. This weekend heralded the first spring-like day and as I walked home from a trip to the shops, I enjoyed the warmth of the sun on my back and felt like I could have been on holiday. As I walked I nibbled on the crackly ‘quignon’ of a still-warm sourdough baguette I’d picked up at the Real Food Store which was intended to go with this simple fennel dish. Fortunately there was still enough left for lunch!
Fennel’s not technically in season at the moment but the local farm shops all have a good stock; I wonder if the warm winter’s had something to do with prolonging the growing season? I’ll have to ask. Please accept my sincere apologies if you can’t find any. As a light lunch I serve one smallish bulb per person but as a side dish this recipe would probably feed four. Fresh from the oven the fennel is bathed in a pool of bubbling butter, melty cheese and juices perfect for mopping up with the afore-mentioned crusty bread. Serve this up with a glass of crisp white wine, sit in a patch of sunlight and it’s easy to pretend you’re on holiday if only for a little while.
Baked fennel with butter and parmesan
- 2 heads of fennel
- 25g salted butter
- 3 tbsp grated parmesan
- freshly ground black pepper
Bring a medium pan of salted water to the boil.
Wash and quarter the fennel and place in the boiling water. Turn the heat down to a simmer and cook the fennel until soft but still holding together, about 8 minutes.
Heat the oven to 200°C and smear half of the butter around a small dish.
Drain the fennel and arrange in a single layer in the buttered dish. Dot with the remaining butter and sprinkle over the cheese. Season with a little black pepper and bake for 15 minutes until golden and bubbly.
Serve warm as a side dish or with some crusty bread for a light lunch.