Fennel Gratin (Finoccio al Forno)
This creamy baked fennel is the ideal indulgent side to serve with just about anything. It’s baked with cream, Parmesan cheese and rosemary. It the perfect cheesy bake for any occasion. Fennel is often overlooked or underrated. It has a fresh, aromatic anise flavor, and it can be eaten raw, sautéed, roasted, or even added to soups and sauces. I can’t get enough of if in this warming, comforting dish.
It’s so easy to make and put together. There’s really no need to prep it in advance because it comes together very fast. Most to the time, work and magic happen in the oven. It’s satiating, sophisticated, and impressive, yet still quite simple. Enjoy!
Notes and substitutions:
This is meant to be a rich, indulgent and delicious savoury bake up - please do not skimp on the heavy cream and use 2% milk or light cream. It just won’t work. If you prefer a different cheese then the Parmesan feel free to use something like Grana Padano or Pecorino Romano. If you want this gluten free you can substitute the bread crumbs for gluten free ones or leave it out all together. I loved the rosemary with the fennel but thyme would be nice here too.
- 1½ lb. fennel (about 2 large bulbs), stalks removed, halved lengthwise, and cut into ½ wedges
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
- ½-1 teaspoon chopped rosemary
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 1½ cups finely grated Parmesan, divided
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed
- ¼ cup bread crumbs
- Heat oven to 425°F. Place fennel in a medium size 3-qt casserole dish, sprinkle over rosemary, garlic, chili flakes, salt and pepper to taste and 1 cup of the Parmesan. Pour cream over it and toss everything to combine. Dot with butter. Cover dish with foil; bake for 60 minutes.
- Uncover baking dish; combine remaining remaining Parmesan and bread crumbs and sprinkle over top and until golden and bubbling and fennel is tender about 20-30 more minutes. Allow to cool a few minutes then serve and enjoy with Garnish with rosemary and, if desired, the snipped reserved fennel fronds.
Adapted from Saveur