Fresh Fennel and Tomato Bake
By Chefs Gary Ibsen with Joan Nielsen

Ingredients 

3 bulbs Fennel trimmed weight about 1 1/4 pounds 
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil 
2 cloves Organic Garlic finely chopped 
2 cups Organic Tomatoes (about 1 pound) peeled, seeded and chopped 
Salt and Fresh Ground Black Pepper to taste 
4 slices Country-Style Bread cut in 1/2 inch cubes (about 3 1/2 to 4 cups) 
1/4 cup Butter melted 
1/3 cup Parmesan Cheese grated 

Directions 

Preheat the oven to 350°F. 

Trim the fennel bulbs by cutting off the tops, leaving about 1/2 inch above the bulbs and cutting away any brown spots. 

Cut the bulbs in half lengthwise and then in 1/4 inch - thick slices. 

Remove any hard central cores. In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil over a medium high heat. 

Add the fennel slices and garlic. Saute, turning occasionally, until just tender, 5 to 7 minutes. 

Add the tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Saute 2 to 3 minutes more. 

Spoon the fennel mixture, including its liquid, into a shallow baking dish, about 8x13x12 inches. 

Toss the bread, melted butter, and Parmesan cheese into a small bowl. 

Place the bread cubes evenly over the fennel mixture. Bake until golden brown and bubbling, about 20 to 25 minutes. 


Serve warm. 

Note: 

Although it stands on its own as a wonderful vegetarian sidedish try serving this delicate but satifying dish as a base for any highly flavored roasted poultry like duck, game hen, or even a robust roasting chicken. 

Just place the finished roast right on top of the baked fennel dish (which will soak up all the roast's drippings) and serve.