I have wanted to use this recipe since I got this book 6 years ago, but we never have Fennel and Cherry Tomatoes at the same time.
2 lb Fennel Bulbs
3 TB Olive Oil
1 TB Thyme leaves, plus a few whole sprigs
3 Garlic Cloves, crushed
1 TB Coarse Sea Salt
1 tsp Black Pepper
2/3 to 1 cup Whipping Cream
1/3 quantity of Crumble
3 to 4 oz Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
1 Basket Cherry Tomatoes
1 tsp chopped Parsley
Preheat oven to 400 F. Trim off the fennel stalks and cut each bulb lengthways in half. Cut each half into slices about 1/2” thick. Place in a large bowl with the olive oil, thyme leaves, garlic, salt and pepper and toss together. Transfer to an ovenproof dish and pour the cream over the fennel. Mix the crumble with the grated Parmesan and scatter evenly on top. Cover the dish with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and arrange the tomatoes on top. Scatter a few thyme sprigs on top. Return to the oven and bake for another 15 minutes. By now the fennel should feel soft when poked with a knife and the gratin should have a nice golden color. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for a few minutes. Sprinkle chopped parsley over and serve hot or warm.
For the Crumble:
10 oz Flour
3 oz Sugar
7 oz cold Unsalted Butter, cut into small cubes
Put the flour, sugar and butter in a bowl and mix with your hands or an electric mixer fitted with the beater attachment to work it to a uniform breadcrumb consistency. Make sure there are no lumps of butter left. If using a mixer, watch it carefully. Within a few seconds, a crumble can turn into a cookie dough. Transfer the crumble to a plastic container. It will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days or for ages in the freezer.