Fennel Gratin

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Baked fennel with olive oil, mozzarella and parmesan cheeses, bread crumbs and fresh thyme.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

I never used to know what to do with fennel, but these days, I can’t get enough of it!

Fennel is the most wonderfully versatile vegetable. You can slice raw fennel thin and serve it with a little shaved Parmesan for a crisp salad.

Or you can plop it in the oven with a little balsamic and roast it until it gets sweetly caramelized.

Fennel has a special affinity for Parmesan, and in this simple gratin fennel wedges are tossed with breadcrumbs, Mozzarella and Parm, and baked until golden brown.

A lovely side for lighter fare, such chicken or fish, and would also work well as a dressy side for a holiday meal.

Fennel Gratin

Fennel gratin just out of the oven, cooling on the stovetop

 

Fennel Gratin Recipe

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  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: Serve 6-8 as a side dish

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds fennel bulbs (3 lbs with fronds), about 3-4 bulbs
  • Salt
  • 3-4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese (about 2 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs (herbed or plain)
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (about 2 ounces)
  • Chopped fennel fronds, for garnish

Method

1 Prep and cut the fennel: Cut off the fronds and stems of the fennel and save them for another dish; they are a great addition to stocks and broths.

Cut the bulbs in quarters, then 1-2 inch pieces; discard the woody cores.

2 Preheat oven, prep pan: Grease a casserole pan or gratin pan with 1 tablespoon olive oil and preheat the oven to 375°F.

3 Boil the fennel: Boil the fennel in a medium pot of salty water for 5-6 minutes, or until the fennel is just about tender. Drain well and toss with a tablespoon of olive oil.

4 Layer the casserole: Mix the parmesan, thyme and bread crumbs, then mix half of that mixture with the fennel. Add the fennel to the casserole in an even layer.

Top with the mozzarella cheese, then the rest of the parmesan-bread crumb mixture. Drizzle 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil over the top.

5 Bake: Cover the casserole and bake at 375°F for 20 minutes. Then remove the cover and bake until the cheese is well browned, about 15 more minutes.

Let the gratin rest for 5 minutes before serving. Garnish with chopped fresh fennel fronds.

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Links:

Fennel and Potato Gratin - from Herbivoracious

Cauliflower Gratin - from Smitten Kitchen

Cardoon Gratin - from Hunter Angler Gardener Cook

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Showing 4 of 18 Comments

  • Laura Fortier

    I am making this for our CDN thanksgiving this weekend, can I make it in advance except for the last step and then just cook in uncovered to melt the cheese on the day of?

  • Sarah

    WOW! AMAZING! I received the fennel in a basket I purchased as well as a country sourdough loaf that I made crumbs out of with herbs. I added a bit more olive oil and crumb mixture and my very, extremely picky 7 year old went crazy over this dish! Thanks so much for easy instructions and pictures! (It is great with a basic porkloin roast!)

  • Julia

    This is delicious! I had some fennel in a produce basket I received, so i googled what I should make. I cook often, but I’ve never cooked with fennel, because it seemed too licorice-y for me, but this was delicious! I didn’t have very high hopes, but I wanted to make something to use the fennel. I wish I would’ve bought a few more bulbs of fennel to supplement what I received in my basket, because this was SO good. We will be making this again! Thank you!

  • PatV

    As I recall, fennel has a “licor-ishy” flavor – when this is cooked as recommended, does that flavor diminish somewhat?? i’d like to try this recipe – sounds really good but only if the above is true. Thanks very much.

    The licorice flavor is much reduced once the fennel is cooked. -Elise

  • Jay @ LocalFood.me

    Special place in my heart for fennel. Another great option is to add it French bread with a little oil, bit of cheese, splash of lemon, and broil for a few minutes. One of my favorites.

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