- 3 plump bulbs of fennel
- a scrap of butter
Butter is made when lactic-acid producing bacteria are added to cream and churned to make an…
- 70g pitted dry black olive with herbs (try Crespo's version, from supermarkets), roughly chopped
- 284ml carton double cream
- 5 heaped tbsp finely grated Parmesan or pecorino romano
Parmesan is a straw-coloured hard cheese with a natural yellow rind and rich, fruity flavour. It…
Preheat the oven to 220C/gas 7/fan 200C. Boil up a big saucepan of water.
Meanwhile trim the roots off each fennel bulb, remove the first leaf, then keep trimming off more root and removing more leaves, right down to the core. Cut off and discard (or keep for a stock) all the green stalky bits and coarse outer leaves. Slicing along the grain of the leaves, cut them into tulip-petal sized pieces.
Throw the fennel into the boiling water, cover the pan and bring back to the boil. Remove the lid and boil for 5 minutes to blanch the fennel, then drain thoroughly.
Lightly butter a large (about 25cm diameter) gratin or other ovenproof dish. Spread half the fennel over the bottom of the dish and strew evenly with half the olives. Cover with the remaining fennel and olives and season well. Pour over the cream, then sprinkle a thick layer of cheese on top.
Bake the gratin on the middle shelf of the oven for about 20 minutes or until the cream is bubbling, the top lightly gilded, and the fennel tender. Leave to cool for 5 minutes before serving.
Blanch the fennel in the boiling water up to 24 hours ahead. Keep cling-filmed and refrigerated and bring to room temperature before baking.