I particularly enjoy fennel but I hardly ever seem to use it and I was thinking that it would be perfect to pull some out for a special occasion like for Valentines day. Fennel bulbs have the flavour of star anise or black licorice that is fairly strong when raw but it mellows out really nicely when cooked. I had recently come across an interesting way of using some fennel, in a fennel gratin , on Simply Recipes and I simply could not resist the idea of covering some licorice-y fennel with cheese and baking it until it gets all bubbly and melted. Normally a gratin has a cheese sauce that starts with a bechamel sauce or a cream based sauce and I liked the fact that this recipe takes a pass on both of them and gets right to the cheese! Basically the fennel is blanched, placed in a baking pan, covered in mozzarella, topped with a parmesan bread crumb crust and baked. Despite being so simple this fennel gratin is quite amazing! The hint of the black licorice flavour remaining in the baked fennel pairs fantastically well with the savoury melted cheese and the crispy golden brown bread crumb topping adds a pleasant textural contrast.
Fennel baked in cheese with a golden brown crunchy bread crumb crust.
- 2 pounds fennel bulbs (about 3-4 bulbs), fronds and stems removed and cut into 1/4 inch thick slices
- 1 tablespoon oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
- 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs (or regular bread crumbs)
- 1/2 cup parmigiano reggiano (parmesan), grated
- 2 teaspoons thyme, chopped
- 1 tablespoon oil
- Boil the fennel in water until tender, about 5-6 minutes and drain.
- Toss the fennel in the olive oil along with the salt and pepper and place it into a baking dish.
- Sprinkle on the mozzarella.
- Mix the bread crumbs, parmesan, thyme and oil and sprinkle on top.
- Bake in a preheated 375F/190C oven, covered for 20 minutes, remove the cover and bake until the cheese is melted and golden brown, about 10 minutes.
This looks really good! I pinned it. I also followed you on pinterest. Remember when you said you'd follow whoever followed you? I do. Still like your recipes though. *Tear falls*
julie @ the semi-reformed nerd says
We rarely eat fennel either… but this looks great, so we may just have to try it again. 🙂
Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar says
This sounds really yummy. I haven't tried fennel!
Girlie Blogger says
Super yummy and not too hard. Very nice dish.
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Rosa's Yummy Yums says
What wonderful flavors! fennel is such a versatile veggie.
I love fennel and here in the U.S. we're not using it as much as they do in Europe. Glad that you posted this recipe, it looks sooo good!!!!!
I heart fennel so much..esp. when roasted!
I'll have to try it your way~
Twin Tables says
The two of us twins have very different opinions of fennel. One loves it raw, the other only eats it, but loves it, roasted. This dish might be the one that brings us together!
Wow! That look so tasty! I really enjoy fennel, too, but it seems like a lot of people aren't too keen on it. Oh well, more for us, I say!
Have a great day!
Valérie (France) says
Le fenouil je l'aime cette recette est faite pour moi
Je te souhaite un bon dimanche
mireia badia says
Sounds great!!! I don't recall ever using fennel for a recipe but then again, I'm more like a sweet baking person. However this looks amazing so I guess I'll have to try it!
Thanks for sharing!
I inevitably either love or hate fennel in recipes, but with all this cheese…I'd love it. For sure.
Jennifer | Mother Thyme says
I have been eager to try some fennel recipes, and this looks like the perfect one to make!
Cookin' Cowgirl says
Kevin, I would have never thought to do a gratin with fennel, lovely! Good job!
I'll have to give this a go – it looks delicious!
Found your blog on 'blogs of note'. This is one of my favourite dishes which I learnt to cook when I was staying with an Italian family near Milan. Yours looks perfect!
Jeff @ Cheese-Burger.net says
I like fennel for its strong flavor. This recipe looks very deliciuos.
Ooh, I've been thinking about making fennel gratin for the longest time! Yours looks divine – thanks for the nudge!
Rocky Mountain Woman says
My boyfriend grows fennel so I am always looking for a new way to prepare it…
This looks wonderful (as always)…
i love fennel, but alas, my girlfriend dislikes anything anise. i have secretly snuck the ground spice into pasta sauces and pizza in the hopes she will acclimate to it. 🙂
will have to keep this recipe for a night where i'm fending for myself…
this looks so good Kevin. I've never tried fennel, but I have tried fennel seeds, wonder if it tastes similar? So yummy and healthy! Love everything about this dish.
Tanja @ Postmodern Hostess says
Thank you for sharing this! I love fennel but also feel at a loss about how to use it. Even better that this is such an easy recipe! Definitely going on the pinboard. 🙂
The Cookinglady says
Great job Kevin. Fennel is something that I haven't tried but, I'm almost there. Great pic
Ciao Chow Linda says
Kevin – This is one of my favorite veggies and I make fennel gratin frequently, but never with the mozzarella. Sounds like a delicious addition.
Honey: Fennel seeds and fennel have a similar taste.
It seems Yummy..
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This looks great! I've made something similar with fennel and strips of thinly sliced prosciutto, baked with gruyere on top. I don't care for fennel raw (don't like the licorice flavor) but baked? It's completely different–so delicious. Love your recipes!! Ann/NoVA
Nami | Just One Cookbook says
I just hopped over from Snixy Kitchen to see your Fennel Gratin. OMG, I LOVE IT. I love fennel bulbs and I can't believe I've never made gratin out of this before! I'm going to make this soon!
Farmer's City Wife says
Made this tonight, but I only had one fennel bulb so I supplemented with asparagus and artichoke hearts. AMAZING!!! I added a little Manchego to the Panko mix as well. I'm thinkin' this will go on our Easter menu next year for sure. Thanks!
Farmer's City Wife: Glad you enjoyed it! I like the sound of adding the asparagus and artichoke hearts!
Dede Moon Ranahan says
OMG! One of the most elegant sides I've ever tasted. Made it just for me so used 1 large fennel bulb (boiled 10 min) and added 1 leek and half dozen whole cloves garlic, sautéed in olive oil. Used an Italian shredded cheese mix and the parmesan. Sprinkled liberally with thyme and added panko crumbs. Sprinkled olive oil over all. Baked 20 min covered and 10 uncovered. Perfect.