Author Notes: Celery, fennel and leek combined in a creamy sauce topped with a parmesan panko crunch makes for a unique side dish. - inpatskitchen
Food52 Review: This is going to be one of my favorite new trusty side dishes. It is simple, scrumptious and moreish. Don't let the thought of anchovies put you off making this ...they add so much dimension to the sauce and don't leave a hint of fishiness. Absolutely exquisite dish! - thehappycook
Serves 4 to 6
Creamy fennel sauce
- 1 medium fennel bulb, cut into a small dice
- 6 filets of anchovies packed in oil and minced
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon ground fennel seed
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 1/4 cup half and half
- In a large saute pan saute the fennel and anchovy in the butter until the fennel softens.Stir in the white pepper and ground fennel.
- Add the flour and cook a few minutes to let the flour lose that floury taste. Slowly stir in 1 cup of the half and half and cook a few minutes until the sauce thickens a bit.
- Place the cooked mixture in a blender, add the remaining quarter cup of half and half and puree until smooth. Set aside.
For the gratin
- 8 Large stalks celery, cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
- 1 small leek, white and light green part, halved lengthwise and then cut crosswise about 1/2 inch
- 4 tablespoons butter
- The creamy fennel sauce
- 3/4 cups grated parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup panko crumbs
- In a large saute pan saute the celery and leek in the butter just until the leek softens a bit (about 6 to 7 minutes)
- Place the celery/ leek mixture into a 9 x9 inch baking dish and pour the fennel sauce over. Bake in a pre heated 350F oven, covered for about 45 to 50 minutes. Uncover and bake for 15 minutes or more until the sauce thickens .
- Combine the cheese and panko and sprinkle over the casserole. Increase the oven temp to 425F and bake another 15 minutes or so. Let the casserole rest 5 to 10 minutes before serving.