In an 8-inch skillet over medium-high heat, toast the bread crumbs, stirring constantly, until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Set aside to cool.
In a 12-inch saute pan, heat the oil over medium heat, and swirl to coat the pan. Saute the barlic and onion until soft, but not brown, about 3 minutes. Add the fennel and continue sauteing, stirring frequently, until the fennel has softened and is beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, salt and season with pepper to taste. Lower the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes longer. Transfer to a shallow oven-to-table casserole or gratin dish.
Preheat the oven to 425°F. In a medium bowl, combine the bread crumbs, parmesan, and lemon zest. Sprinkle evenly over the fennel mixture. (The gratin can be made up to this point 6 to 8 hours ahead. Cover and set aside at room temperature.)
Bake the gratin until heated through and the topping is crisp, about 20 minutes. Serve immediately.
|... an excerpt of:
"The Thanksgiving Table" (Chronicle Books)
click on the cover to see it at Amazon.com