This baked fennel dish is a perfect Friday night in front of Netflix dinner. It is an unashamed hearty, indulgent standalone dish (if it makes you feel better, even with the cream I reckon its still healthier than a take away pizza). Just the thing to enjoy at the end of a long week in front of the telly alongside some crusty bread or stirred through pasta with a bottle of wine.
Baked fennel with pancetta and cream (serves 2 as a main or 4 as a side)
4 large bulbs of fennel
200g/ 7oz diced pancetta or bacon
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
200ml/6oz heavy (double) cream (or half cream and half crème fraiche)
Optional – a handful of grated gruyere or Parmesan
1. Cut each bulb of fennel into quarters from stalk to root and place them in a shallow baking dish in a single layer. Cut the fennel into thinner wedges if you need dinner fast!
2. Fry the pancetta in a dry frying pan (I use my Scanpan) over a gentle heat for 10 minutes. Stirring every few minutes so that the fat is released (for around 10 minutes) and the pancetta eventually becomes crisp. Preheat the oven to 190C/375F
3. Add the garlic and freshly ground black pepper to the pancetta and cook for around 2 minutes before pouring the pancetta and garlic over the fennel (keep some of the fat back if you don’t want to be too indulgent!)
4. Pour the cream over the dish and bake, uncovered, for around 40 minutes until the fennel is tender. If using cheese, scatter it over for the last 10 minutes of cooking. If you want to throw the baby out with the bathwater you might as well sprinkle some breadcrumbs over at the same time as the cheese.
You can now buy the equipment I use in this recipe through my shop. I’ve spent years testing my favourite bits of equipment so rest-assured that whatever I recommend is the best tool for the job and will give you great results without cluttering your kitchen with unused tools.
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