Here’s the Dish – Fennel Parmesan

A dear friend Paola introduced me to this recipe and when she told me about it, I couldn’t wait to make it. Fennel is one of the world’s oldest edible plants. (See FENNEL SALAD post for more information and background about fennel.)  It is more versatile than most people think.

One of my favorite fennel recipes is a digestif liqueur. It has a slight licorice flavor and is a great after-dinner drink. Many Italians serve it as a digestif to an evening meal. DIGESTIF LIQUEUR.

Another popular fennel recipe is orange fennel salad. Paola brought this salad to a luncheon a few years ago and I’ve made it frequently since then. In fact, students who take my cooking classes often will find this salad on the table to pair with the featured class recipe. The light salad is refreshing and pairs well with most any meal.  FENNEL SALAD.

Back to today’s recipe… this classic Italian dish (Finnocchio al burro e parmigiano) is cooked in butter (I added a little olive oil too) and is topped with parmesan. It’s simple, very tasty, and a healthy vegetable side-dish. Fennel can be found at most grocery stores. Trader Joes offers a nice presentation of fennel packaged in twos with fronds trimmed off.  

Slice fennel bulb. (I didn’t use the fronds.)

 I thoroughly rinse the sliced fennel in cold water to clean out any grit that might be caught in the layers.

Boil fennel in salted water until vegetable is softened. 

After fennel is boiled, fry it in butter and olive oil for a few more minutes. Don’t brown it, but a light char is okay.

Dish up fennel, season with salt and pepper, and top with Parmesan-Reggiano 


Fennel Parmesan
Serves 3-4 as a side dish
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  1. 4 cups fennel (bulb only), sliced (about one good sized fennel)
  2. 2 tablespoons butter
  3. 2 teaspoons olive oil
  4. 3 tablespoons parmesan reggiano
  5. Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  1. Slice fennel crosswise up to the fronds into thin strips. Put fennel in a water bath to clean any grit caught in the layers of fennel bulb. Drain.
  2. Bring a pot of salted water to boil and add cleaned fennel slices. Boil for about 5 minutes, then drain.
  3. Warm olive oil and melt butter in a frypan, adding fennel. Sauté lightly for 5-10 minutes until fennel is thoroughly softened.
  4. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Serve topped with cheese.
  1. Vegetarian
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