This is the recipe for the side dish I made on New Years Eve for myself and Sugar. In all honesty, I’ve never had fennel before, let alone cooked with it (somehow I missed the fennel bus when I was younger). I was looking for something different and tasty … and when I saw this in my cook book – I thought I would give it a swing. This recipe is adapted from Sue Ashworth’s recipe in her book “Vegetarian Dinner Parties” which Sugar and I picked up at a used bookstore in Grass Valley, California, last summer.
This is the original recipe as it is out of her book. I did make some substitutions such as using non-dairy cream cheese and cashew milk as I tried to avoid any dairy in the process. I also used panko bread crumbs in place of traditional bread crumbs. Substitute or not at your pleasure.
Baked fennel tastes fabulous in this creamy sauce, flavored with caraway seeds. A crunchy bread crumb topping gives an interesting change of texture.
- 2 T lemon juice
- 2 bulbs of fennel, trimmed
- 1/2 c. low-fat soft cheese (I assumed this meant cream cheese)
- 2/3 c. milk
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1/4 c. butter
- 2 tsp caraway seeds
- 1 c. bread crumbs
- salt and pepper
- fresh parsley for garnish
- Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil, and add the lemon juice. Slice the fennel thinly, and add to the saucepan. Cook for 2-3 minutes to blanch, and then drain well. Arrange in a buttered oven-proof baking dish. (I used coconut oil spray)
- Beat the soft cheese in a bowl until smooth. Add the cream, milk and beaten egg, and whisk together until combined. Season with salt and pepper, and pour over the fennel.
- Melt 1 T. of the butter in a small skillet, and fry the caraway seeds gently for 1-2 minutes, to release their flavor and aroma. Sprinkle over fennel.
- Melt the remaining bread crumbs, and fry gently until lightly browned. Sprinkle over the surface of the fennel. (to be honest and admit my lazy ways – I cooked the caraway seeds in with the breadcrumb topping.)
- Place in a preheated 350 degree F oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the fennel is tender.
- Serve, garnished with sprigs of parsley.
I served this fennel alongside a goat-cheese and mushroom tart (recipe coming soon!).
So – how was my first fennel experience? It was tasty! The fennel was nice and tender in the creamy sauce and had a slight anise flavor to it. All and all is was savory and delicious. If you are like me, and have never had fennel before – this is a simple recipe to make and it makes a nice side dish to replace the “same old thing” in your routine.
Until next time, I send you peace, love, and good energy.