Cheesy Fennel Gratin

Cheesy Fennel Gratin is a creamy, indulgent side dish that pairs beautifully with grilled or roasted meats. It’s also fantastic as a main dish with a leafy green salad and crusty bread.

Homemade Cheesy Fennel Gratin with Parmesan closeup on the pan on the wooden table. Horizontal view.

This vegetable casserole is a part of our New Year’s celebration. I like to serve it with a Sweet And Sour Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad, luxurious Roasted Beef Tenderloin, and Individual Bananas Foster for an elegant and delicious meal.

All About Fennel

Fresh fennel bulbs or Fennel bulb on wooden background.

Fennel is a member of the carrot family. Despite what many believe, fennel isn’t a root vegetable because it grows above ground. It has a bulbous base with stalks growing up from it. The tips of the stalks have light, feathery leaves that look like dill weed. When it matures, tiny yellow flowers grow in with the fronds.

Fennel has a crispy celery-like texture and a mild licorice flavor. When cooked, the bulb takes on a sweeter, milder flavor. The fronds have a more citrusy flavor similar to dill. It can be used raw in salads, roasted, steamed, or grilled.

It is also a very nutrient-dense vegetable that is low in calories and high in fiber, calcium, magnesium, potassium, Vitamin C, and many B vitamins. It’s a powerhouse vegetable that is often overlooked.

How To Pick Fennel

Choose fennel bulbs that are heavy for their size with tight leaves. There should be no bruising or dark spots and firm stalks and bright green fronds.

How To Cut A Fennel Bulb

  1. Use a sharp knife to cut the stalks close to where they connect to the bulb. Set aside.
  2. Cut the bulb in half. Remove any wilted layers. Slice off the fennel root from the bottom of the bulb.
  3. Slice each half into half again.
  4. Remove the core from each slice of the fennel by making a wedge-shaped cut at the bottom of each slice. The core is more woody and tough.
  5. You can roast, steam, or boil the quarters or slice each quarter into slices.
A serving of Cheesy Fennel Gratin on a white plate. Closeup view.

Ingredients Needed

  • Fennel bulbs and fronds – you need about 4 large bulbs.
  • Kosher salt and white pepper – you can use black pepper as well, but you will see black flecks throughout the dish.
  • Olive oil
  • Garlic and shallots
  • Heavy cream
  • Parmesan Reggiano – grate your cheese for the best texture and taste rather than buying pre-grated cheese coated with an anti-caking agent.
  • Fontina cheese
  • Dried thyme
  • Italian-style bread crumbs
talian food Parmesan Fennel Gratin closeup on the pan on the wooden table. Horizontal top view from above.

Steps To Make This Recipe

  1. Cut and boil the fennel.
  2. Lay the fennel slices in a casserole dish.
  3. Make the sauce by sauteeing the onion and shallot until fragrant.
  4. Stir in the cream, both cheeses, thyme, and black pepper.
  5. Pour the sauce over the fennel and sprinkle with the breadcrumbs.
  6. Bake.
Print
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Homemade Cheesy Fennel Gratin with Parmesan closeup on the pan on the wooden table. Horizontal view.

Cheesy Fennel Gratin


  • Author: Millie Brinkley
  • Total Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes
  • Yield: 8 servings 1x

Description

Cheesy Fennel Gratin is a creamy, indulgent side dish that pairs beautifully with grilled or roasted meats. It’s also fantastic as a main dish with a leafy green salad and crusty bread.


Ingredients

Scale

3 pounds fennel bulbs with the fronds (about 4 large bulbs), cut lengthwise into quarters, discard woody cores

3 teaspoons kosher salt

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 small shallot, very finely minced

1 cup heavy cream

½ cup grated parmesan reggiano cheese

½ cup grated fontina cheese

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon black or white pepper pepper

¼ cup Italian-style bread crumbs

Chopped fennel fronds as garnish


Instructions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Grease a casserole dish with olive oil or cooking spray. Set aside.

Place the fennel in a medium pot. Fill the pot with water and add the Kosher salt.

Boil the fennel for 5-6 minutes or until tender. Drain well and arrange the fennel in the casserole dish in a single layer.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, add the olive oil and saute the garlic and shallot over medium-low heat, stirring frequently to prevent browning, until fragrant – about 5 minutes.

Stir in the heavy cream, grated cheese, thyme, and black pepper until well combined. Cook, stirring constantly, for 3-5 minutes or until the cream slightly thickens. Don’t let the cream boil.

Pour the cream mixture over the fennel.

Sprinkle the bread crumbs on top.

Cover the casserole dish with aluminum foil and bake for 25-30 minutes.

Remove the foil and bake for 15 minutes or until the fennel is tender.

Remove the casserole from the oven and rest for 5 minutes.

Sprinkle the top with the chopped fennel fronds.

Serve hot.

  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 50 minutes
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Bake
  • Cuisine: French

Keywords: cheesy fennel gratin, cheesy side dish, fennel, gratin recipes, vegetables

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