BAKED FENNEL AND TOMATOES (for 4 to 6)
2 or 3 medium fennel bulbs, trimmed and quartered
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
freshly ground black pepper
8 small (16 ounces) plum tomatoes, peeled, cut in half lengthwise and seeded
½ cup (2 ounces) freshly shredded or grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, preferably not the finely grated kind
1.Preheat the oven to 350*. Have ready a medium casserole baking dish (6 to 8 cups).
2. Bring a large saucepan of lightly salted water to a boil over medium high heat. Add the fennel and cook, uncovered, for about 10 minutes, or until it is tender. Drain and toss, in a medium bowl, with the butter until the butter has melted.
3. Spread the fennel in the casserole dish, cut sides up, so that it will cook evenly; season with salt and pepper to taste. Scatter the tomatoes around; season them lightly with salt and pepper, too. Bake, uncovered, for about 30 minutes, until the tomatoes have softened. Transfer to the stovetop (not over any heat) and sprinkle the cheese on top. (If desired, preheat the broiler and place the casserole under the flames for aa few minutes until the cheese has browned nicely). Let the casserole rest for 5 minutes before serving.
adapted by the Washington Post from The Ultimate Casserole Cookbook by Cllifford A. Wright; printed March 26, 2008