- Course: Side Dish, Vegetable
- Skill Level: Easy
- Cost: Inexpensive
- Favorited: 4 Times
Can be made ahead of time.
To prepare this simple side-dish salad, you roast plum tomatoes and fennel in a 250°F oven, and then arrange them attractively on small plates. Season them simply, with just a drizzle of salt and your best extra-virgin olive oil.
The dish requires only a few minutes of preparation but two to three hours of cooking. I developed it specifically to be made with and served alongside the Slow-Baked Cannelllni with Olives, Escarole, and Gramolata.
1. Preheat the oven to 250°F, select one or two baking sheets large enough to arrange the tomatoes in one layer and brush with oil. Arrange the tomatoes on the sheets cut side up and sprinkle them lightly with salt. Set aside.
2. Select a heavy roasting pan or large gratin dish for the fennel (it does not have to fit in a single layer), and brush the bottom with oil. Remove any fennel fronds and set aside for garnish. Cut the top stalks from the fennel and reserve for stock. Trim the base, and quarter each bulb, top to base. Discard any tough or bruised outer layers. Slice the quartered bulbs ¼ inch thick, leaving the core as intact as possible to hold the layers together. (This won’t be possible with all of the slices.) Set in the roasting pan, seasoning lightly with salt and drizzling with olive oil as you go. Cover the pan tightly with foil.
3. Bake the tomatoes until collapsed and shriveled, 2 to 2½ hours. (For the first hour or so, it will look like nothing is happening.) At the same time, bake the fennel until tender and easily pierced with the tip of a paring knife, 1½ to 2 hours. (Once the fennel is tender, you can roast it uncovered to brown it and achieve a more intense flavor.)
4. To serve, arrange the fennel and tomatoes decoratively on small plates and drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil. Finely chop the reserved fennel fronds and use them as a garnish. If you wish, dot a few drops of Balsamic Syrup decoratively around the plate.
Two pounds of plum tomatoes yields about 2 cups roasted, enough to serve 4 to 6 as part of this side dish. Why not double the amount to have some on hand for garnishes (great on sandwiches) or to serve with the Hiziki Tapanade? Refrigerated in a well sealed container, they last about 10 days.
Nutritional information is based on six servings, and includes 4 tablespoons olive oil and 1 teaspoon salt. It does not include Balsamic Syrup.