Fennel is used a great deal in Italian cooking, either raw or cooked, in soups, risotto, and salads or as an accompanying vegetable. Here is the simplest and most classic way of serving it cooked as a side vegetable. Fennel is one of the easiest vegetables to select by gender. The female, which is much sleeker and sinuous than the stocky, stubby male, has a much stronger liquorice taste. In Italy, fennel is always selected according to its gender and while the female is considered suitable for salads, only the male is ever used for cooking.
Alternatively, cover the fennel completely in grated cheese then place under a preheated broiler until browned. Serve immediately.
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