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Warm Fennel & Parmesan Dip

January 18, 2012

by Emily

After working your way through Liz’s incredible Get Ready to Entertain Checklist (Liz may need to come to NYC to help me with mine!), you may want to consider adding this new light bite to your list of go-tos. While fennel likely does not occupy permanent real estate in your refrigerator, the other ingredients undoubtedly do. Nothing too tricky here.  And, not that anyone is counting, but you will earn those all-important bonus points when you divide the dip into four ramekins at the bake stage and freeze the portions you do not consume. As in, you can have friends over with 20 minutes notice bonus points. We like it. Apart from this little competition I have going on in my entertaining head, the thing I really like about this dip is that it is not hummus (but you can serve it with all things you would hummus – crudites, homemade pita chips, etc.), it is not cream-based (but still very flavorful and satisfying), and it is warm for those chilly nights. Winter dip perfection.

Warm Fennel & Parmesan Dip
Martha Stewart

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 fennel bulbs, trimmed and cut into 1-inch wedges
4 garlic cloves, slightly crushed
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons, finely grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Heat oil in a large heavy ovenproof skillet (preferably cast-iron) over medium-high heat until shimmering; add fennel, pressing down so that most of it fits snugly in a single layer. Add garlic to skillet. Brown fennel on 1 side for 4 minutes. Flip, and sprinkle lightly with salt. Cover skillet with parchment-lined foil, and transfer to oven. Roast until fennel is very tender, 20 to 30 minutes. Let cool slightly.

Raise oven temperature to 450 degrees. Puree fennel and garlic in a food processor until smooth. Season with salt and pepper, and stir in  1/4 cup cheese. Transfer mixture to a 3-cup baking dish, and sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons cheese. Bake until dip is hot in center and cheese is golden brown, about 20 minutes. Serve immediately.

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