Florentine Fennel Gratin

By • November 14, 2011 • 6 Comments



Author Notes: When I was in college, my host mother in Florence taught me how to make this. It’s one of my favorite dishes, ever, which is fortunate for my eldest son, as it’s one of his favorite dishes, ever, too. Enjoy!! ;o)AntoniaJames

Serves 2 - 4

  • 3 small or 2 medium bulbs of fennel
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons Wondra (superfine) flour
  • 1 ½ cups whole milk, warmed
  • ¾ cup grated parmigiano, divided in half
  • ½ teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, coarsely chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Butter for preparing the baking dish
  • A good-sized pinch (1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon) freshly grated nutmeg
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Farenheit. Generously butter a flat baking dish.
  2. Cut the hard end off the bottom of each fennel bulb, remove the tough outer layers, cut in half lengthwise, remove the core and fronds and the thin stalks on top. Slice thinly from top to bottom. Very finely chop enough of the stalks, taken from the lower part of them, to make about ¼ cup. Finely chop about a tablespoon of the greenest fronds.
  3. Heat the oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat; when it starts to shimmer, add the sliced fennel. Saute for about two minutes. Then add the chopped fennel stalks. Cook, stirring frequently, until the slices are just barely soft. Remove from pan.
  4. Add the butter over medium heat. Once it is melted and has started to get hot, sprinkle in the flour, stirring to combine, adding a bit at a time until all has been added. Continue to stir it over the heat until the mixture is a light golden brown.
  5. Add the milk gradually, whisking or stirring briskly all the while, to incorporate the milk and to remove any lumps. When the sauce is very smooth, add ¼ cup of cheese, the fresh thyme leaves and the chopped fennel fronds; stir well. Test for seasoning and correct, if necessary.
  6. Put the fennel in the baking dish. Pour the sauce over the fennel and sprinkle on the freshly grated nutmeg and the remaining cheese.
  7. Bake until the cheese has melted, the sauce is bubbling around the fennel and the top of the dish has become brown in a few places. This should take between 10 and 25 minutes, depending on what shelf of your oven you use, how warm the ingredients are when you put the dish in the oven, etc. (You can put it on the top shelf or under the broiler for just a minute or so, if the dish is generally warm throughout and you just want to melt and/or darken the cheese on top.)
  8. Enjoy!! ;o)
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Comments (6) Questions (2)

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over 2 years ago A_to_the_Zed

This dish was delicious! Fennel plus nutmeg and cheese is brilliant.

New_years_kitchen_hlc_only

over 2 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Thank you so much, A_to_the_Zed! I am glad you liked this. ;o)

Dscn3274

over 2 years ago inpatskitchen

Thank YOU! I love using the microplane also!

New_years_kitchen_hlc_only

over 2 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

A Hotline question was just asked about this, because a step was dropped when I posted the recipe. I've edited it, and this time the edits were accepted. (Not all were, when I edited it the first time, shortly after posting.) Just FYI, in case you printed it out already -- something I'm often inclined to do when I see a recipe I like! ;o)

Dscn3274

over 2 years ago inpatskitchen

Oh AJ.. this sounds so wonderful!! I LOVE fennel and will try this soon! How much nutmeg?

New_years_kitchen_hlc_only

over 2 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Thank you for your kind words, and for pointing out that the nutmeg was omitted in the ingredient list. I use a healthy pinch, though frankly, since I've started using a microplane to grate nutmeg, I just grate it directly onto the dish, giving it a good dusting. ;o)