Fresh fennel, which looks a little like celery, has a light licorice flavor and a celerylike texture. This classic gratin of fennel, baked in béchamel sauce and topped with grated cheese, is well suited to dressier meals.
Trim away the feathery stalks just above where the bulb begins. Leave the root end on. If necessary, remove any damaged outer stalks.
Cut the trimmed bulb in half. Rinse between the layers to remove any grit. Lay one half on a cutting board, cut-side down. Cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices with a sharp knife.