gratin of fennel in fresh tomato sauce

Lindsey Bareham

The faint aniseedy tang of fennel rings through a fresh and vibrant tomato sauce that’s seasoned vinaigrette-style with wine vinegar and olive oil. Basil and garlic lift the flavours. This sauce can be used fresh or as a cook-in sauce as I’ve done here. Serve it alone as a healthy, light summery supper or partner with roast chicken (use leftovers in tomorrow’s recipe) and fresh, minted peas.

serves 2-4, prep: 25 min, cook: 40 min

4 small fennel bulbs
10 vine tomatoes
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 garlic clove
4 tbsp olive oil
10 basil leaves
75g fresh breadcrumbs
2 tbsp finely grated Parmesan or gruyère

Boil the kettle. Heat the oven to 200C/gas 6. Halve the fennel lengthways and slip into a pan of vigorously boiling salted water. Boil for 10 min. Drain. Meanwhile, cut the tomatoes in half lengthways, then grate holding the cut side of the tomato facing a boxgrater, grating directly into a mixing bowl. Discard the skins. Season the pulp with salt, pepper, vinegar and very finely chopped garlic. Beat in the olive oil.

Shred the basil and fold into the pulp. Arrange the fennel cut-side up, alternating top to tail, in a gratin dish that can hold them snugly. Spoon over the sauce followed by the breadcrumbs mix with the cheese. Bake for about 30 min until the gratin has formed a crust and the sauce is bubbling round the edges.