Posted by Brian Edwards

Recipe of the Month - Fennel, Cherry Tomato and  Crumble Gratin (Based on a recipe by Yotam Ottolenghi)

Serves 6 to 8

(This recipe was tried and tested by a group from the mystery dinners during spring, and "Highly Recommended")

  • 2 ¼ lbs. / 1 kg / 3 Fennel bulbs
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil (or canola oil)
  • 1 tbsp. thyme leaves, plus a few whole sprigs
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tbsp. course sea salt
  • 1 tsp. ground black pepper
  • A short 1 cup / 200 ml heavy cream – I substitute 2% milk or a soy product
  • 100 g Parmesan cheese - grated
  • 300 g cherry tomatoes is best, thickly sliced fresh tomato can be used in a pinch
  • 1 tsp. chopped parsley (for garnish)
  • 1/3rdrecipe of crumble. Full crumble recipe as follows:
(2 1/3rdcups all-purpose flour, ½ cup superfine sugar, ¾ cup + 1 tbsp. cold unsalted butter cut into cubes of < ½ inch. Put all ingredients in a bowl, and mix by hand to uniform breadcrumb consistency. Should be no lumps of butter. If using an electric mixer with a paddle, use slow speed and watch carefully, as it can quickly turn in to cookie dough if overworked. Should this happen, roll out thinly, cut in to cookies, bake in oven, dip half of cookie in to melted chocolate, eat slowly and ponder life. Then start again and do by hand this time. The crumble may be kept for 5 days in fridge in plastic container, or for ages in the freezer)  
Preparation and cooking instructions
Step 1 may be done in advance, earlier in the day and the dish put aside. 
Step 2 may then be completed when you are closer to, know when you are serving.
Step 1)
  • Preheat oven to 400 F degrees.
  • Trim off fennel stalks, cut bulb in half lengthwise then each half in to slices about 2/3rdinch / 1.5 cm wide. 
  • Place in large bowl with olive oil, thyme leaves, garlic, salt, pepper and toss together. If you are particularly fond of licorice flavour add a bit of anisette – 2 tsp. or to taste 
  • Transfer to, arrange in a flat bottom ovenproof dish, which will also be used for serving. Pour the cream (or milk or soy product) over the fennel.  
  • Mix the crumble and Parmesan cheese and scatter evenly on top.
  • Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes.
Step 2)
  • Remove aluminum foil and arrange the tomatoes on top – scatter loose, leave on vine, arrange as you wish
  • Scatter a few thyme sprigs on top also.
  • Return to oven and bake for a further 15 minutes, with no aluminum foil cover. The fennel should be soft when poked with a knife and the gratin a golden colour.
  • Remove from oven and allow to rest for a few minutes.
  • Sprinkle the chopped parsley over
  • May be served hot or warm