4 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, cut into ¼ inch slices
5 large fennel bulbs, timed and cut into ¼ inch slices
½ cup vegetable broth
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
1 cup pecorino cheese
1 teaspoon coarse ground kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup panko (light Japanese breadcrumbs)
1 cup grana padano cheese, grated
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel
Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and onion and sauté until soft but not brown. Add fennel and sauté until the fennel starts to turn slightly brown and is soft (this could take up to 20 minutes). Stir in vegetable broth and simmer on low heat until most of the broth is absorbed. Fold in the pecorino cheese. Place mixture into a lightly oiled 9 x 13 casserole dish. To make crumb topping, melt butter in saucepan, add panko, brown slightly ,then cool. Add grated cheese, season and toss. Cover fennel mixture with crumbs. Refrigerate overnight and bake on day of party at 375 F for 35 to 40 minutes.
Susan Mendelson is a Vancouver caterer.