1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9- or 10-inch pie plate with the softened butter. Sprinkle bread crumbs over sides and bottom of pie plate.
2. Heat butter or olive oil in skillet over medium flame. Add onion, fennel and garlic; saute until vegetables are mostly tender, 7–10 minutes. Raise heat to medium-high, stir in sausage, fennel seed, and salt and pepper to taste. Saute 1–2 minutes. Let cool.
3. Meanwhile, scatter the cheese over the bottom of the pie pan. Beat eggs with half and half in a bowl. Stir cooled vegetable mixture into egg mixture; pour into pan. Rim the outer edge of pie with chopped fresh fennel leave or roasted red peppers.
4. Bake until set, about 30 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.
Copyright by Terese Allen