Roasted Fennel with Sausage, Apple, and Tallegio Cheese
Current favorite cookbook alert. I picked Six Seasons up on a whim. We were randomly in the library and it was on the “Lucky Day” shelf. Joshua McFadden is the executive chef at one of my favorite Portland restaurants, Ava Genes, so I was particularly happy that it was my lucky day. I haven’t bookmarked so many pages in a single cookbook in a while. The emphasis on seasonal items has made me more mindful of what I’m making when, but not to the point that I avoided making this early summer recipe in the fall. The apples are starting to come on strong, so it seemed like a good idea. And it was such a good idea. I am one of those people who loves fennel. If you are not, avoid this. It’s very fennel-ly in all the right ways. I ate it all myself. Not in a single sitting for once. I stretched it to two giant sittings. And now when I look that the serving size was for six my eyes got a little big, but I don’t have regrets.
If I were to change anything it would maybe be to try slicing the fennel in the mandoline super thin like I did the apple. There wouldn’t be as much [if any?] steaming to do, but it would probably be less confusing for my mouth to eat. The thicker pieces of fennel were tricky at times, and it made me glad I was shoveling it in alone. I probably would have been a proper lady with a knife and fork if I had been eating it with anyone else.
The flavors were oh-so-cozy. Definitely an A++, would eat again, situation. Next time, I would even share.
Inspiration: Six Seasons: A New Way with Vegetables
- 2 bulbs of fennel, about 1 1/2lbs, green parts removed and white part cut lengthwise into eighths
- 1/2lb fennel sausage
- 1 large apple [Braeburn or Fuji], peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup almonds, toasted
- 6oz Tallegio cheese, rind removed and “cubed” [it’s going to stick to your fingers!]
- 1/2 cup dried breadcrumbs
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
- 1/2 teaspoon chile flakes
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- extra-virgin olive oil
- salt and pepper
- Fennel fronds for garnish
Heat the oven to 375 degrees and get a 2-3 quart baking dish out.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat before adding 1 teaspoon of olive oil. Add the sausage. Cook until it’s cooked through, breaking it up into popcorn sized pieces. Remove it from the pan.
Reduce the pan’s heat to medium-low and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the smashed garlic. Cook it slowly until it’s soft and golden brown. It should take about five minutes and smell heavenly. Add the chile flakes for a few seconds and then add the fennel. Pour 1/3 cup of water into the pan and cover it allowing the fennel to steam. Check every few minutes to make sure everything stays moist. Add more water as necessary. I didn’t end up needing any.
Once the fennel is about 3/4 of the way cooked through and the water has evaporated, add back the sausage. Add the apples, toasted almonds, thyme leaves, and half of the Tallegio cheese. Toss to combine and season with salt and pepper.
Pour the mixture into the baking dish. Top with the rest of the cheese and the breadcrumbs. Dot the top of the breadcrumbs with small pieces of butter.
Bake for 30-35 minutes. The cheese should be melting and the breadcrumbs golden brown. Let the mixture rest for about five minutes before serving.