- 4 medium fennel bulbs, about 2 1/2 pounds, topped, a few green fronds reserved
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more to oil the baking pan
- ½ teaspoon fennel seed, crushed or roughly powdered in a mortar or spice mill
- 3 garlic cloves
- ⅛ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- ½ teaspoon chopped rosemary
- ½ pound fresh mozzarella, sliced or shredded
- 2 teaspoons rosemary leaves
- ¼ cup coarse dry homemade bread crumbs from an Italian or French loaf
- ½ cup grated Parmesan (about 1 1/2 ounces)
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley, or a mixture of parsley and fennel fronds
- salt and pepper
- Heat oven to 375 degrees. Remove a thin layer of the fennel bulbs’ tough exterior with a paring knife or sharp vegetable peeler. Cut the fennel crosswise into half-inch-thick slices. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Boil the fennel for 1 minute, then put it in a bowl of cold water, drain and pat dry. Season with salt and pepper. Lightly oil an oven-proof baking dish. Layer in the fennel to a depth of 1 1/2 inches (pushing down, if necessary).
- In a small bowl, stir together 3 tablespoons olive oil, the fennel seed and the garlic, smashed to a paste with a little salt, the pepper flakes and the chopped rosemary. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of this mixture over the fennel. Sprinkle with the rosemary leaves. Cover with a layer of sliced or shredded mozzarella, then sprinkle with bread crumbs. Drizzle the remaining oil mixture, then sprinkle with Parmesan. (The dish may be prepared to this point several hours before baking.)
- Bake, uncovered, for 20 to 25 minutes, until nicely browned. Garnish with the chopped parsley or a mixture of the parsley and fennel fronds.
- 4 medium artichokes
- 1 lemon, halved crosswise
- Coarse salt
- Dipping sauce
- Prepare artichokes for steaming:
- Snap off tough outer leaves.
- Cut off top 1/3 of artichoke.
- Snip remaining spiky tips using kitchen shears.
- Trim stem so artichoke stands upright.
- Rub cut surfaces with lemon to prevent discoloration.
- Repeat with remaining artichokes and lemon.
- Set a steamer basket in a large pot.
- Add water just below the basket.
- Squeeze lemon juice into water and add 1 tablespoon salt.
- Bring to a boil.
- Place artichokes in steamer basket, stem-side up.
- Cover pot, and steam until heart is tender, around 25min.
- Radicchio leaves
- Fresh mozzarella slices
- 3 tbs olive oil
- 1/2 tsp. fresh ground pepper
- 1/4 tsp. dried oregano
- 1 tsp. crushed fennel seeds
- Arrange radicchio leaves in a shallow glass or ceramic baking dish, then drizzle with oil and vinegar and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Roast radicchio, turning over once or twice, until wilted and tender, 30 to 40 minutes.
- Arrange mozzarella slices over radicchio, sprinkle with pepper and oregano, and roast until cheese is just melted, 3 to 5 minutes.
- Serve immediately with the crushed fennel seeds.
- Bon Appétit!
- 1 bunch of green or gold chard, leaves and stems separated
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 spring onions, greens removed, halved lengthwise and sliced
- 2 tablespoons capers, drained
- 150 g green olives, pitted and drained
- 500ml tomato passata
- 100ml white wine vinegar
- 25g sugar
- 40g capers, soaked for 1 hour, rinsed and with excess salt removed if salt-packed
- 20g sultanas, soaked for 1 hour, drained and squeezed of excess liquid
- 20g pinenuts
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Olive oil as needed
- A handful of basil leaves, for garnish
- Chop the leaves into bite sized pieces and wash and drain. Cut the stems into 1/8th inch wide slices across the stem.
- Heat a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat. Film it with oil and when it is hot, add and sauté the onion until translucent.
- Add the garlic, stems, the green olives and the tomato passata and simmer covered on low to medium heat until the stems are getting tender, but still a little crunchy.
- Add the capers, the pine nuts, the sultanas, the vinegar and the sugar. Stir well, taste for and add salt.
- Add the chard leaves on top. Drizzle with a little oil and turn to coat.
- Transfer to serving bowl, cover and leave to rest for 2 hours at room temperature for the flavors to mix.
- Garnish with a couple of basil leaves and serve as an appetizer with plenty of bread on hand!