Month of October: “David Tanis Market Cooking” Recipe: “Fennel al Forno

“Embrace your grief. For there your soul will grow.’ Carl Jung

Abby and I loved Carl Jung. We once had a magical mushroom experience at the infamous cabin with his book “Man and His Symbols.” In it, there is that well known Leonardo Da Vinci ink drawing of a naked man with multiple arms and legs extended. You know it? We stared at that picture for a very long time. What I remember most is that we both were simultaneously and powerfully drawn into that image. We could communicate without words…we could read each other’s thoughts! We contemplated time and space! Of course, we were young and experimenting but the main take away was how that experience cemented our bond. We were transformed. We were different from that moment on and we never forgot it. It became us.

Now, she is no longer here to remember that day or share with me so many lasting imprints of our youth. All that remains are my memories and my grief…the outline of our brief history in time. I keep digging and digging, deeper and deeper, dredging the emotional earth and allowing whatever comes to me to take shape and then unwittingly replanting whatever remains exposed. It’s like new roots or new bulbs taken from old stock and then being placed solidly in freshly prepared soil, going dormant again, waiting for the time to push forward into new life, into new growth.

Ingredients: 4 medium fennel bulbs trimmed, salt and pepper, 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon crushed fennel seeds, 3 garlic cloves smashed into a paste with a little salt, 1/2 teaspoon chopped rosemary, 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper, 8 ounces fresh grated mozzarella, 1/4 cup breadcrumbs, 1/2 cup parmasan cheese, 2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley

1.Heat the oven to 375F. Remove a thin layer of the fennel bulbs tough exterior. Cut the fennel crosswise into 1/2 inch slices. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and add the fennel and boil for 1-2 minute. ( I wished mine were a little more tender). Drain and put into a bowl of cold water to stop the cooking. Drain and pat dry. Season.

2. Lightly oil a large baking dish. Layer in the fennel to a depth of 1.5 inches, pushing down if necessary. In a small bowl, stir together the olive oil, fennel seeds, garlic, rosemary and crushed pepper. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of this mixture over the fennel. Cover with the mozzarella, then sprinkle with the bread crumbs. Drizzle the remaining oil mixture over the top, then sprinkle with parmasan. Bake for 20-25 minutes until nicely browned. Garnish with parsley and expect raves.

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