Literally translated as cooking "in a bag," al cartoccio is a superb way to steam vegetables in their own juices, with virtually no added fat. Here, fennel, a native of the Mediterranean, comes out tender and moist, and with its licoricelike flavor wonderfully mellowed.


  • 2 fennel bulbs, about 2 pounds total weight
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, lightly crushed (optional)
  • Salt and ground white pepper


Preheat an oven to 450 degrees F. If the stalks and feathery tops of the fennel bulbs are still intact, cut them off and reserve for another use or discard. Trim the stem ends and remove any bruised outer leaves. Cut each bulb lengthwise into sixths; the core portion will hold each wedge intact. Coat one side of a large sheet of aluminum foil with the olive oil.

Arrange the fennel wedges on the oiled side of the foil, tuck the garlic, if using, among the wedges and season to taste with salt and white pepper. Fold the foil over, bring the edges together and fold them over twice to make a double seal. Place on a baking sheet.

Place the baking sheet on a rack in the center of the oven and immediately reduce the heat to 400 degrees F. Bake for 15 minutes. Turn the pouch over and bake until fragrant and the fennel is tender when pierced with a fork, 10-15 minutes longer. To test for doneness, remove the pouch from the oven, unfold one corner and test with a fork. Seal and bake for a few more minutes longer if the fennel is not tender.

TO SERVE: Remove the fennel from the pouch and transfer to a warmed serving dish. Serve warm.

Recipe reprinted by permission of Weldon Owen. All rights reserved.

RecID 2414

nutrition information per serving

87 calories; 2g total fat; 0mg cholesterol; 118mg sodium; 17g carbohydrates; 7g fiber; 3g protein

These nutrition facts are calculated according to the ingredients listed in this recipe. Any substitutions will change these facts. Although we strive for accuracy, please note that food manufacturers occasionally change their food formulas, which could affect the calculations as shown.

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