Tomatoes in wide varieties are beginning to populate the supermarkets. New potatoes, especially Jersey Royals, asparagus, and fennel, are now in season. Carrots, summer greens, and beans are now coming into their own. June is also the prime month for parsley, mint, basil, and coriander.

Make some pesto to add a Mediterranean accent to foods. Try grilling carrots, fennel, and tomatoes to bring out their flavor. Experiment with different flavor combinations. For a change of pace, try Potatoe – Fennel Au Gratin.


1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Two small fennel bulbs
One yellow onion, thinly sliced
Two tablespoons of good olive oil
One tablespoon of unsalted butter
2 pounds of russet potatoes (4 large potatoes)
2 cups plus two tablespoons of heavy cream
2 1/2 cups grated Gruyère cheese (1/2 pound)
One teaspoon of kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Butter the inside of a 10-by-15-by-2-inch (10-cup) baking dish.
Saute the fennel and onions in the olive oil and butter on medium-low heat for 15 minutes, until tender. Remove the stalks from the fennel and cut the bulbs in half lengthwise. Remove the cores and thinly slice the bulbs crosswise, making approximately 4 cups of sliced fennel.

Chop some of the feathery ends of the stalks as a garnish.

Peel the potatoes, then thinly slice them with a mandoline or a knife. In a large bowl, mix with 2 cups of cream, 2 cups of Gruyère, salt, and pepper.

Layer one-third of potatoes, one-third of onions, and one-third of fennel. Pour one-third of the cream mixture on top. Sprinkle with one-third of the chopped-up stalks if you are using them. Repeat two more times.

Bake for 1 1/2 hours, until the potatoes are very tender and the top is browned and bubbly. Allow to sit for 10 minutes and serve.

Copyright 1999, The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, All Rights Reserved