Roasting fennel highlights the vegetable’s licorice-like flavor and brings out its inherent sweetness.
While a lot of people don’t like the idea of a licorice-tasting dish, mostly because they have bad memories associated with black licorice candy (myself included), this distaste shouldn’t scare anyone away from the vegetable itself – fennel is simply delicious, particularly when cooked, and offers a slew of health benefits.
In this tart recipe, fennel is roasted and then baked with herbs, cheese (three different kinds), and potato, all atop puff pastry dough. The resulting tart is the perfect comfort dish that’ll offer a dose of nutrition without you even realizing it.
Nutritional Breakdown of Fennel
In one cup of fennel, there are 73 calories, 0.5 grams of fat, 1000 milligrams of potassium, 7.3 grams of dietary fiber, three grams of protein, 6% of the RDA of vitamin A, 12% of the RDA of calcium, 47% of the RDA of vitamin C, and 10% of the RDA of iron.
The vegetable is a rich source of phosphorous, zinc, copper, manganese, selenium, niacin, pantothenic acid, folate, choline, beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, vitamin E, and vitamin K. Fennel is also high in dietary nitrates and is a natural source of estrogen.
Buying and Storing Fennel
Choose fresh fennel that has a clean, firm bulb with no browning, bruising, splitting, or spotting. The leaves should appear dark green while the bulb itself bares white or white-greenish color. The stalks should not be soft or capable of bending. Instead they should be firm and crunchy. Meanwhile, the fennel should give off a fragrant licorice aroma.
It’s best to use fresh fennel as soon as possible. Even so, it can store for up to five days in the refrigerator.
Roasted Fennel Tart Recipe
For the fennel
- 1 fennel bulb
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Sea salt and pepper to taste
For the potatoes
- 1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes
For the tart
- 6 ounces Gruyere cheese, shredded
- 1 cup Pecorino cheese, shredded
- 1 cup mascarpone cheese
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon white pepper
- ½ teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 sheet puff pastry
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Slice the fennel in half, lengthwise, and then cut it horizontally into thin slices. Transfer the fennel to a baking sheet, drizzle the slices with olive oil, and season them with salt and pepper. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and set side.
While the fennel is baking, prepare the potatoes. Skin the potatoes and slice them horizontally into 1/8-inch thick pieces. Add the potato slices to a pot and cover them with water. Bring the water to a boil. After two minutes, drain and rinse the potato slices. Set aside.
To prepare the tart, press the puff pastry dough into a 10-inch tart pan. Use fingers to press the dough into the bottom and up along the sides of the park. Poke holes across the bottom of the dough-lined pan with a fork. Place the tart pan in the refrigerator and let chill for 30 minutes.
While the dough chills, prepare the cheese mixture. In a small saucepan oven medium-low heat, add four ounces of Gruyere cheese along and 3/4 cup of the pecorino cheese along with the mascarpone cheese, salt, and pepper. Stir until the mixture melts.
Once the dough has chilled, start layering the fillings. First, start with the potatoes. Create a layer using half of the potato slices. On top of the potatoes, spread half of the melted cheese mixture. Repeat the same two layers, using up the remaining potatoes and cheese. Top the last layer of cheese with the roasted fennel. Top the tart with the reserved Gruyere and pecorino cheeses and sprinkle with fresh rosemary. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden-brown and sizzling hot. Let cool slightly (or completely) before serving.