Let’s face it, the holidays are stressful. They also creep up on you out of nowhere and suddenly your next-door neighbor’s house looks like a giant glowing carnival ride, you can’t find a radio station that isn’t playing mind-numbing Christmas carols, and the traffic here in Los Angeles is somehow even worse than it was before, even though I would never have thought that could be possible. And those Christmas jingles certainly don’t help with one’s impending holiday-traffic-induced nervous breakdown. Thankfully, it is easy to soothe the holiday headaches with the warmth, cheer, food and wine of the various holiday parties we end up hosting or attending. And like every holiday, my favorite part about Christmas is the food. But the last thing any of us want, is one more thing to stress about. So if you’re hosting a holiday gathering, or just looking to make a special holiday dinner without too much strain, I recommend making this fennel gratin recipe from Marc Vetri’s new cookbook Rustic Italian Food. It’s simple, elegant and delicious a perfect side dish to whatever you’re making this year.
Enjoy and Happy Holidays!
From Rustic Italian Food by Marc Vetri and David Joachim
Serves 4 to 6
- 2 Fennel bulbs, fronds trimmed and reserved
- 2 1/2 cups olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Trim the base of the fennel and remove all dark and light green parts down to the white bulb. Slice each bulb in half lengthwise. Cut each half lengthwise into 4 wedges and remove the cores. Lay the wedges on a rimmed baking sheet and add olive oil to a depth of 1/4 inch. Sprinkle each wedge with a pinch each of salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes. Top each with about 1 teaspoon of Parmesan.
Bake until tender, about 30 minutes. Rempve from the oven and let cool in the oil until just warm.
Using a slotted metal spatula, transfer the fennel to plates and garnish with the reserved fennel fronds.