It is late winter and the fennel in my green grocer is still both superb and cheap. Today we bake it with lemon and herbs. It is served with a lovely creamy sauce, almost like aoli, but made with cream. As we are vegetarians, we don’t cook with eggs, so this dressing of pouring cream, seasoning and lemon juice, beaten till it thickens, is a perfect substitute. You should try it! Different flavourings can be added as needed.
Today, we caramelised some cumquats to serve with the fennel. The caramelisation deepens the cumquat flavours and as they are abundantly in season we are using them in place of lemons in many dishes.
Are you after similar recipes? Try Baked Fennel Stuffed with Feta, Florentine Fennel with Parmesan, Slow Baked Fennel with Chilli, Orange and Garlic, Grilled Fennel with Fresh Mozzarella, and Fennel a la Grecque.
Baked Fennel with Mint and Parsley, with a Creamy Sauce
2 large fennel
30 g butter
1.5 Tblspn fresh mint, finely chopped
1.5 T fresh parsley, finely chopped
juice of 0.5 lemon
walnuts, chopped finely
sea salt and white pepper
optional: finely chopped herbs such as parsley and mint, chopped capers, chopped cumquats
Heat the oven to 180C.
Trim the shoots and a thin slice from the base of the fennel bulbs. Remove any tough outside leaves. Cut the bulbs in half from the top to the bottom. Place them in an oven-proof dish, cut side down. Lay lemon slices on and around the fennel.
Melt the butter and add the mint, parsley and lemon juice. Pour over the fennel, cover the dish with foil and bake in the oven for 1.25 – 1.5 hours or until tender.
Remove the cooked fennel to a serving dish. Garnish with fennel fronds and sprinkle the chopped walnuts over the top of the fennel.
Take some pouring cream and season with salt and pepper. Add the optional herbs or capers. Add the minced garlic and a squeeze of lemon juice and beat lightly with a fork. When it has thickened sufficiently (you can leave it runny or beat until it is a dip-like consistency), place in a small bowl to serve with the fennel.
recipe notes and alternatives
A little French mustard can be added to the dressing.