Friday, March 2, 2012

Leek and Fennel Frittata with Feta & Dill

If you've never cooked with fennel, you're not alone. For years I avoided the bulbous root because I didn't know quite what to do with it. All it took was a recipe by Lidia Bastianich for her Sausages with Fennel & Olives, and I was hooked. Fennel has a light but distinct anise, or licorice, flavour that's crisp and refreshing when raw, but when cooked slowly, becomes sweet, succulent and tender. A versatile ingredient for soups, braises and many baked dishes, the bulb's magic lies in its power to enhance other flavours, as with this fabulous Leek and Fennel Frittata with Feta & Dill. Simple to prepare, low in carbs and gluten-free, this light and delicious egg-based dish makes the perfect savoury side for roast pork, lamb and chicken, or enjoyed on it's own for brunch or as a light entrée with a simple salad.

Leek and Fennel Frittata with Feta & Dill
Serves 4-6

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 cups fennel, trimmed, quartered, cored and chopped
3 cups leeks, white and light green parts, cleaned and chopped
1/2 tsp salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste
2 large garlic cloves, minced
3/4 cup chopped fresh dill
1/4 cup dry white wine
5 large eggs, beaten

1/2 cup grated pecorino
3/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large nonstick skillet, and add the fennel and leeks. Cook, stirring often, until the leeks and fennel are very tender and fragrant, about 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook 2 more minutes. Add the wine and cook until the moisture has cooked off, about 5 minutes. Then stir in the dill. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground white pepper, and remove the skillet from the heat.

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease a large gratin or baking dish with butter. Beat the eggs in a large bowl, then stir in the crumbled feta and fennel mixture. Combine well. Pour the mixture into the baking dish and bake 40-50 minutes until the gratin is set and the top and sides are beginning to colour. Remove from the oven, and allow to sit for at least 10 minutes before serving. This is delicious hot, warm or at room temperature, and makes a delicious side dish with roast pork, lamb or chicken. It also makes a light and savoury brunch dish.

Note: The filling can be made up to two days ahead and kept covered in the refrigerator. When you're ready to serve the gratin, grease the pan, add the filling and bake as instructed. 

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