- fennel bulbs 3 fresh
- Milk 300 ml • 49 kcal
- Cheese 4 tbsp
- Butter 50 g • 717 kcal
- Salt a pinch • 1 kcal
- Black pepper a pinch
Fennel is one of the most underrated vegetables in the kitchen, and it’s quite surprising that it doesn’t feature that often. When eaten fresh, it adds a lot of crunch to salads, but braised or roasted, it becomes silky and flavorful. It has a slight aniseed flavor that matches especially well with pork or fish dishes. This is an easy and versatile fennel gratin recipe. The fennel is first sauteed, then layered with cheese and butter to create the gratin. The flavor is rich and cheesy, while the texture is creamy with just the right amount of crunch. With a few fennel bulbs, milk, butter, and cheese, you’re on your way to making a luxurious side dish that will impress even the fussiest of guests.
- We used cheddar cheese for this recipe, but any cheese will do. Try gruyere, Swiss cheese, or even mozzarella.
- Make this dish more satisfying by adding extra veggies. Use precooked potato slices, leeks, cauliflower, or sauteed onions.
- This fennel gratin is a perfect side dish for steamed fish, smoked salmon, roast pork, or pork chops.
- Want to make it even more creamy? Use cream or crème fraiche instead of milk.
- Add more flavor by adding a pinch of nutmeg and 1 oz of grated parmesan.
- Instead of a side dish, transform this into a main dish by adding fish or cooked ground beef.
- If you want extra crunch, add a sprinkling of Panko breadcrumbs just before baking.
How to store Fennel Gratin
The fennel gratin can be made ahead of time. Assemble the dish, cover with plastic wrap, and store in the fridge for up to 2 days. Add about 15 extra minutes when baking, as the dish will be cold.
Leftovers can be stored in the fridge (in an airtight container) for up to 1 day. Reheat either in the microwave or in the oven until heated through.
If you don’t plan on eating leftovers immediately, you can also freeze them. Store in an airtight container and freeze for up to 3 months. Allow to thaw in the fridge overnight.
How to trim the fennel bulbs: Trim off the stalks (save the fronds for later use). Cut the bulbs in half, cutting straight through the root of the fennel bulbs. Cut away the tough root in the middle and peel away any wilted layers.
Cut the fennel into medium-sized pieces.
Place the butter in a pan and sauté the fennel pieces until golden brown.
Pour in milk, add salt and pepper. Cover and cook for 10 minutes.
Pour everything onto a baking sheet, then add more butter and cheese. Bake at 200º C (392ºF) for 15 minutes.
For best results, choose fennel bulbs that feel heavy for their size, and have tightly packed layers. The stalks should feel firm, and not limp or rubbery. Don’t pick fennel bulbs that have loose layers. Save the stalks and fronds for use in other dishes! They taste delicious when added to salads or stews.
Store fennel bulbs in the crisper drawer and use them within one week.