This Italian-style casserole makes good use of Florence fennel, one of the most under-rated and under-used vegetables. It looks like a cross between celery and onion, and tastes of aniseed when raw. When cooked, it takes on a flavour all its own.

The Recipe

Aubergines tend to absorb a lot of oil, so make sure you add them slightly after the majority of the other ingredients, otherwise there’ll be no oil left to fry everything else.


2 fennel bulbs, quartered

2 aubergines, cubed

4 celery sticks, sliced

7 shallots or 1 onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, sliced

1 tbsp chives, chopped

1 tbsp basil, chopped

1 tbsp oregano, chopped

1 bottle passata

1 can chopped tomatoes

1 tbsp parsley, chopped

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp olive paste

1 stock cube

Black pepper, freshly ground

100g parmesan reggiano, grated

6 sun-dried tomatoes


Fry the shallots/onion, garlic, fennel, celery, aubergines, chives, basil, parsley, olive paste black pepper and sun-dried tomatoes in the olive oil. Add the other ingredients and fry rapidly until well-reduced. Place in covered, oven-proof dish and cover with parmesan cheese. Bake in the middle of the oven at gas mark 4 until the cheese is golden brown.

Serves 2-4.