Just Call Me Martha Stacey

Cookie Party: Fennel Parmesan Dip

Posted on: December 4, 2010

Well, my cookie exchange party is over…the house is (almost) clean again, the dishwasher is running and I have tons of tasty treats to eat!  Over the next two weeks, I’m going to be sharing a bunch of recipes, both cookies and other appetizers as well as party favours and a planning checklist.

My two appetizers were a warm fennel and parmesan dip and mini cornbread muffins (both found in a recent Martha Stewart magazine).  The fennel dip was a hit and best of all, can be made up to two days in advance and baked just before the party.  I went to three different grocery stores on a hunt for fennel bulbs, only to learn later that the terms fennel and anise are used interchangeably because they’re in the same plant family.  The anise bulbs sold in grocery stores are typically fennel.

Warm Fennel-and-Parmesan Dip
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 fennel bulbs, trimmed and cut into 1-inch wedges (don’t use the stems)
4 garlic cloves, slightly crushed
Coarse salt and fresh ground pepper
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp finely grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Heat oil in large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering.  Add fennel and garlic to skillet and brown for 4 minutes.  Stir and sprinkle with salt.

Cover skillet with foil and transfer to oven.  Roast until fennel is very tender (20-30 minutes).  Let cool slightly.

Puree fennel and garlic in food processor until smooth.  Season with salt and pepper and stir in 1/4 cup cheese.  Transfer to 3-cup baking dish.  Raise oven temperature to 450 degrees (or refrigerate puree for up to 2 days…bring to room temperature before baking (I didn’t so this and it turned out fine)).

Sprinkle with remaining cheese.  Bake until dip is hot in the centre and cheese is golden brown (20 minutes).  Serve immediately with rustic bread or breadsticks.

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