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Baked fennel with Parmesan cheese recipe

Baked fennel with Parmesan cheese recipe

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  • Side dish
  • Vegetable side dishes

A very simple but totally delicious vegetarian dish. It's so simple and if you've never tried fennel before - be prepared to be delighted. This is an ideal accompaniment to many tomato based Italian dishes as the creaminess balances nicely with the tomato.

107 people made this

IngredientsServes: 4

  • 2 bulbs of fennel
  • 1 tablespoon butter for frying
  • 175ml (6 fl oz) single cream
  • 175ml (6 fl oz) creme fraiche
  • 2 tablespoons of freshly grated Parmesan cheese

MethodPrep:10min ›Cook:35min ›Ready in:45min

  1. Preheat the oven to about 200 degrees C /gas mark 6.
  2. Cut the base off of the fennel bulbs, and cut a cone shape into the base to remove the core. You can see the core because it is whiter than the surrounding green. This is optional, but helps the fennel cook faster. Slice the fennel vertically (upright) into 5mm/1/4 inch thick slices.
  3. Melt the butter in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the fennel, and fry for about 5 minutes. Stir in the cream and creme fraiche until well blended. Transfer to a shallow baking dish. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over the top.
  4. Bake for 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the top is golden brown and the fennel is tender enough to pierce with a fork.

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Reviews & ratingsAverage global rating:(112)

Reviews in English (78)

Used different ingredients.1) Top with a layer of sliced tomatoes before you add the cheese.2) Mix breadcrumbs with the cheese,it could be Lancashire or similar.-05 Aug 2008

Altered ingredient amounts.little less liquid, more parmesan-02 Aug 2009

Very nice recipe, very tasty. Went well with a roast chicken.-28 Nov 2010

  • 750g/1½lb fennel bulbs, trimmed, halved, trimmings reserved
  • 50g/1¾oz butter
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tbsp dry vermouth
  • splash pastis (optional, alternatively add more dry vermouth)
  • 60g/2oz parmesan (or similar vegetarian hard cheese), grated, plus extra for serving

Preheat the oven to 170C/325F/Gas 3.

Melt the butter in a casserole dish over a low heat. Place the fennel into the butter cut-side down, and scatter around the trimmings. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and increase the heat.

Add the vermouth and pastis. Cover with a sheet of foil loosely pressed down on the vegetables, and put the lid on top. Place into the oven to cook for 30 minutes.

Remove the dish from the oven and turn over the fennel. Return to the oven and cook for a further 30 minutes, or until very tender when poked with a small, sharp knife.

Preheat the grill to high.

Remove the fennel from the dish. Place in a warmed shallow oven-proof dish cut-side up, cover with foil and place in the oven while you make the sauce.

Pour the trimmings and cooking juices through a fine sieve suspended over a small pan. Warm through and add 45g/1½oz of the parmesan. Blend with a hand blender until smooth and creamy (about the consistency of pouring cream).

Pour the mixture over the fennel and sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Place under the grill and cook until the surface is pale golden-brown and slightly bubbling around the edges.

Serve with extra parmesan for sprinkling over.

Recipe Tips

Try grating your parmesan in a food processor to produce a fine powdery texture. Keep it in a container in the freezer for future use.

Fennel Baked in Cream

Ingredients US Metric

  • 1 1/2 pounds (about 2 large bulbs) fennel, stalks removed, halved lengthwise, and cut into 1/2-inch (12-mm) wide wedges
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 cups finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 to 2 ounces), cut into small chunks


Preheat the oven to 425°F (218°C).

In a bowl, toss together the fennel, cream, and 1 cup cheese. Season with salt and pepper.

Transfer to a 3-quart baking dish and dot with as much or as little of the butter as you wish, depending on how rich a dish you prefer. (You can assemble the ingredients in the baking dish and refrigerate for up to 24 hours if you need to get the prep work done ahead of time.)

Cover the dish with foil and bake for 1 hour.

Uncover the baking dish and sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Continue baking, uncovered, until the fennel is tender and the surface is well browned, about 30 minutes. Serve immediately. Originally published December 8, 2011.


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Recipe Testers' Reviews

This fennel baked in cream was just so lovely. From the cream to the fennel to the crisp Parmesan on top! I loved it! It was great and I will make it again and again! I actually used some light cream, as that's what I had in the house, it worked great and I felt a little better for it. I had some excellent Parm and that made this dish just extra special!

This recipe is meant for six to eight although we ended up devouring it just between the two of us. It was that good.

I was initially hesitant about the proportions — anything over a stick of butter or a cup of cream I usually avoid. But this dish is entirely worth the indulgence. The cream is less stodgy than using a béchamel, and it bakes down into the most ethereal custard. I forgot the butter topping and the dish didn’t seem to suffer from the lack.

The only adjustment I’d make would be on temperature. I ended up with a rim of carbonized cream maybe lower to 400°. Otherwise, I can’t wait to make it again, and perhaps try it with leeks.

What can I say — this fennel gratin is outstanding! You don’t need a lot of ingredients to make a delicious dish. Even those who think they don’t like fennel will fall in love with this one. The flavor of the fennel really mellows baking in the cream and Parmesan bath. The fennel gets very tender and the top turns a beautiful golden color.

I will be making this one for Christmas dinner! Be warned, though, when warming up the leftovers — if there are any — the cream turns to butter and melts.

The reason this fennel gratin recipe attracted me is that for years I have been trying to get my family to enjoy fennel as I do. Well, this recipe made it happen. Everyone absolutely loved the taste of this creamy side dish. We served it with a broiled chicken and there was no need for further sides. The fennel melted in one’s mouth, and the cheese just enhanced the whole experience.

My only comment is I would forego the butter next time, as I do not really think it is needed. Both the cream and the cheese already have their own fat.

My dinner guests and I all felt very Italian eating this deliciously creamy fennel baked in cream dish! Everyone at the table loved this and I loved it as the cook since it was so easy to prepare. The anise flavor of the fennel worked really well with the cream and saltiness of the Parmesan cheese.

In terms of salt, I would use caution with adding it, since there is already so much saltiness in the cheese—I used about 1/4 teaspoon and that worked well. I would definitely serve this dish on its own plate we put it as a side dish on a plate with beef tenderloin, and it was so creamy it slowly started taking over the entire plate! (No complaints though, as the more creamy fennel on the plate, the better!)

I will definitely be making this dish again.

Flavorful fennel—what could be better? Fennel baked in cream and Parmigiano is the best you can get! Easy to put together, and it bakes alongside whatever else you need to have in the oven. Golden on top, smooth, creamy, and rich underneath that crust! And all of that along with eating your vegetables too! Fantastic.

WOW! This fennel gratin is sinfully delicious. It's rich and luxurious. It's easy as can be to make. It can be scaled up and back without even thinking.

A little does go a long way. I will definitely be making this again and again, but I will scale back the recipe if there are just the two of us. Leftovers were very good, but not quite as wonderful as eating the dish right away. A great dish to wow company with. A great dish if you want something comforting or just something extra special without much effort.

First of all, this gratin would not serve more than four if everyone, like me, adores all things creamy, cheesy, and bubbly. I read the recipe and wondered if the fennel slices would cook down to mushy nothingness after 1 1/2 hours in the oven at a rather high temperature, and if the wonderful anise aroma would be overpowered by all that cream and cheese. Well, my pre-trial concerns were blown away when I saw and tasted the end result. It had all the qualities I had wanted: hearty, creamy, fragrant, tender, and golden. The fennel wedges held their shape beautifully, and that unique flavor was still there, packed in each layer of the bulb. What a relief.

Some people might find this dish too rich, though. If I were to omit anything from the recipe for such guests, it would be the butter, as I suspect the gratin would still brown nicely without it. Replacing half of the heavy cream with half-and-half or whole milk may be worth a try.

This was so easy to make and a lovely side dish to the roast chicken. I have not cooked much with fennel, but I loved the flavors of the slight sweet and licorice mixed with the cream and cheese. Not very healthy but worth the calories!

Every holiday that I host, I am determined to substitute an age-old favorite with something new. My goal is to create new traditions. I want my family to associate my table with new essences—something special. Trust me, I don’t take away the beloved (hell has no fury as to not serve mashed potatoes on a holiday—my sister-in-law learned the hard way) but I do a switcheroo on a traditional dish that’s ho-hum. This year I am incorporating this recipe. It’s delicious and now it’s “all mine." This would be divine with prime rib on Christmas or New Year’s Eve.

You'll find that the edges get quite caramelized. Let it be, this is not a mistake. I actually really like the dark edges around the sides of the casserole dish, and it makes the overall flavor three-dimensional.

This was not a quick dish, nor a low-fat one, but it was incredibly simple to make and absolutely delicious. The fennel gets completely soft and you get a nicely browned top. Classy enough to deserve a spot on your holiday table.

In the future, I might use a bit less butter. I think half that would have been enough to dot over the top and encourage browning. With the full amount there were a few pools of butter. I also might add some crushed fennel seeds, to up the fennel flavor.

Not disappointed by this easy recipe using delicious and unique fennel. If you've never tried fennel gratin, it’s a great idea for a different side dish for the holiday. It's lovely with pork or poultry or even beef.

This recipe works exactly as written—I made it a second time and sautéed the cut-up fennel first with a little butter and white wine, just to get some of the liquid out of it to make the dish a little thicker, and it was perfect, and the grated Parmesan sits on top a little better instead of sinking somewhat. Either way works, and if you want the easiest, do the original.


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How to cook fennel

I love roasting it in the oven! Scroll down to the recipe card for the detailed instructions. Here are the basic steps:

You start by slicing the fennel bulbs. Then arrange the slices in a baking dish.

Drizzle the slices with olive oil and toss to coat, then sprinkle them with salt and pepper. Next, bake them for 15 minutes in a 425°F oven.

Carefully remove the pan from the oven. Sprinkle the partially cooked slices with grated parmesan. Return to the oven and bake until tender and browned, about 15 more minutes.

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  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 medium fennel bulbs (about 12 ounces each see Tip), preferably with fronds attached
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

Position rack in upper third of oven. Preheat broiler to high.

Mix oil and crushed red pepper in a small bowl. Trim stalks off fennel and discard, reserving fronds for garnish. Stand the fennel upright and cut the bulb lengthwise into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Arrange the slices in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Brush with the oil mixture and sprinkle with salt. Broil until charred and tender, about 8 minutes. Sprinkle evenly with cheese. Broil until the cheese is bubbly, 1 to 2 minutes. Serve topped with chopped fronds, if desired.

Tip: Fresh fennel is sometimes confused with similarly flavored anise and can even be labeled that way in stores. They're actually different plants. (The only part of the anise plant that's usually sold are its seeds.)

Recipe Summary

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 fennel bulbs, trimmed and cut into 1-inch wedges
  • 4 garlic cloves, slightly crushed
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Heat oil in a large heavy ovenproof skillet (preferably cast-iron) over medium-high heat until shimmering add fennel, pressing down so that most of it fits snugly in a single layer. Add garlic to skillet. Brown fennel on 1 side for 4 minutes. Flip, and sprinkle lightly with salt. Cover skillet with parchment-lined foil, and transfer to oven. Roast until fennel is very tender, 20 to 30 minutes. Let cool slightly.

Raise oven temperature to 450 degrees. Puree fennel and garlic in a food processor until smooth. Season with salt and pepper, and stir in 1/4 cup cheese. Transfer mixture to a 3-cup baking dish, and sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons cheese. Bake until dip is hot in center and cheese is golden brown, about 20 minutes. Serve immediately.

Finocchio al Forno (Fennel Baked in Cream)

Chef Gabrielle Hamilton of Prune restaurant in New York City turned us on to this simple, classic Italian preparation, which calls for baking fennel in the oven with cream and Parmesan to create a luxurious gratin.

Finocchio al Forno (Fennel Baked in Cream)

Vegetable Parmesan

Recipe by Giada De Laurentiis

Giada is a chef, mother, author and restauranteur. She is known as the Emmy-award winning television personality of Food Network’s Everyday Italian, Giada at Home, Giada In Italy, as a judge on Food Network Star, NBC Today Show correspondent, for her eight New York Times best-selling cookbooks and her debut restaurant, GIADA, in Las Vegas. Though most days, you can find her in Los Angeles with her daughter, Jade and kitten, Bella, whipping up something delicious in the kitchen involving parmiggiano reggiano or her weakness, dark chocolate!

Vegetable parmesan is a great vegetarian Italian dish for when you’re feeding people with dietary restrictions, or if you’re just looking to switch things up. This recipe calls for eggplant, fennel, and bell peppers, but you can use whatever vegetables you love or have on hand. You don’t have to make your own marinara sauce, either — but it’s totally worth it to take a few minutes to make store-bought sauce taste better!

Of all the recipes I’ve done for Giada at Home on TV, this one has been the biggest hit with both viewers and my crew. I’ve always said that if you want to get kids (and picky adults) to eat something, bake it with marinara and cheese and they’ll be demanding seconds. You’ll be happy because they’re eating lots of healthy veggies, they’ll be happy because it tastes awesome, and as an added bonus, your kitchen will smell fantastic, too.

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Watch the video: Fennel Parmesan: It is too good not to try!