Polenta and fennel bake

A juicy, and crispy, supper dish for 4 people 


Polenta, cooked. See Polenta and how to cook it
2 medium globes of fennel, trimmed top and bottom, cut in half lengthways and thinly sliced  
1 large or 2 medium field mushrooms, destalked, peeled and thinly sliced
½ yellow or orange bell pepper, trimmed, de-seeded, rinsed and thinly sliced
Fennel seeds, a level teaspoon, lightly crushed in a pestle and mortar
175g (6 oz) vegetarian cheese, emmenthal or similar, grated
25g (1oz) breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper


Slice about half of the already prepared polenta in squares of a suitable size to cover the base of a lightly buttered or oiled oven-to-table dish, approximately 20cms (8 inches) x 30 cms (12 inches) x 5cms (2 inches). 

Using a deep frying pan, gently cook the fennel, pepper, and fennel seeds, stirring to avoid burning, for four or five minutes. Add the mushrooms and fry for a further couple of minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste, cover with stock, bring to boiling point, reduce the heat and simmer until the vegetables are cooked, about ten or fifteen minutes, adding if necessary a little more stock. You want just enough liquid to cover the polenta.  

Spread the fennel mixture over the polenta. Cover with the cheese and breadcrumbs, mixing them together. Drizzle some olive oil over the top, and cook in a pre-heated oven, Gas 5, 375F, 190C, for 40-45 minutes until the top is crispy. 

Serve with a green salad, or a couple of vegetable side dishes, and some olives.