A warm gratin is a bubbling dish of soothing comfort, with the magic all happening as it bakes and bubbles in the heat of the oven.  And really, gratins are all about the ingredients, and the creaminess that binds them together; this one is simple as can be.

Recipe by: Gourmande in the Kitchen
Serves: serves 4
Prep Time: Quick & Easy


4-5 small roma tomatoes

1 large or 2 small fennel bulbs, stalks removed

2oz crã¨me fraiche

2 tablespoons black olive tapenade (store bought or homemade)

1/2 cup lactose-free parmesan block, finely grated and divided

1 handful thyme leaves

0 fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

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1. Slice tomatoes into 1/4-inch thick slices. If your tomatoes are very juicy, layer the tomato slices into a colander, sprinkle with a few pinches of salt and drain excess moisture from the tomatoes for 20 minutes.

2. Trim fennel bulbs and halve lengthwise through the core, and thinly slice each half.

3. Fit a pan with a steamer basket and several inches of water. Steam fennel for 8 to 10 minutes or until fennel is tender.

4. In a bowl, toss together steamed fennel, crème fraiche, olive tapenade, half of the thyme leaves and Parmesan; season with salt and pepper.

5. Butter the bottom of a small baking or gratin dish.

6. Place fennel mixture at the bottom of the baking dish. Arrange the tomato slices over the fennel in overlapping rows. Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan and thyme leaves.

7. Bake at 35o for 20 to 25 minutes, uncovered until the cheese starts to brown and the gratin is bubbling. Let rest for about 5 minutes before serving.