John Pountney's Fennel & Parmesan Gratin

Fennel is one of my favourite vegetables and if you plant in the early autumn, you should have a steady supply over the winter. This is a great accompaniment to slow cooked meats or just a general side dish. Fennel has a beautiful, gentle aniseed flavour. Its versatility means it can be eaten cooked or raw and is easy to grow.


(serves 6)

10 fennel bulbs trimmed (good size, not baby sized)
Salt and pepper
300mls cream
50g parmesan (grated)
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped


Preheat oven to 200C. Cut the fennel bulbs into six, lengthways, so that the individual pieces are held together by the central core. Blanche, then drain well. Toss the fennel in a mixture of the cream, half the Parmesan and the garlic. Season. Put in a shallow baking dish, scatter the remaining parmesan on top. Cover with foil and place in the preheated oven. After 20mins remove the foil, then replace dish in the oven for a further 10mins.