Grilled Baby Fennel with Lemon and Pecorino

May 8, 2011

Author Notes: Springtime is a great time to start using your grill again. Spring vegetables are particularly delicious when infused with the smokey flavors from the grill and then drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and fresh lemon juice. In this recipe, sliced rings of fennel are grilled and then tossed in a lemon vinaigrette. Lemon zest, chopped fennel fronds, and shredded pecorino cheese is sprinkled over the top. I recommend adding red pepper flakes to taste, but I'll leave that up to you. - WaverlyWaverly

Food52 Review: The bright, sunny flavors of the lemon and fennel sing out spring. I was inspired by this recipe to grill a piece of salmon, which benefited from the zesty lemon flavor as well. I used a gas grill and cooked the fennel on medium-low. I found the rings browned more quickly than they cooked, so I'd suggest cooking the fennel over low heat once it's browned so it can stay on the grill long enough to become tender. The Pecorino and crushed red pepper were just right as finishing flavors. - lorinarlockLori Lyn Narlock

Serves: 4-6


  • 10-12 baby fennel bulbs (if using regular-sized fennel, use 2-4)
  • olive oil
  • kosher salt and freshly grated black pepper
  • 1 medium sized lemon, zested and juiced
  • 2-3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, divided
  • 2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4-1/3 cups fennel fronds, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup pecorino cheese, shredded
  • red pepper flakes, to taste (optional)
In This Recipe


  1. PREP THE FIRE AND THE FENNEL: Prepare your grill for a moderately hot fire. Add a few mesquite or hickory chips for even better flavor. Back in the kitchen, take your fennel and chop off the leafy stems where they meet the bulb. Pull a handful of the feathery leaves from the stems and finely chop them. Put in a small prep bowl and set aside. Now, we prep the bulb. If there are any bruises on your bulb, remove the outer layers until they are gone. Cut the fennel horizontally into 1-inch rings. Place rings in a mixing bowl and toss with a generous glug of olive oil to coat them plus half the lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside until your fire is ready.
  2. GRILL: When your fire is ready, place your fennel rings into a vegetable grilling basket. Place basket over the coals and then partially close the cover to the grill. Grill until fennel is tender and browned on all sides, about 5-8 minutes per side.
  3. TOSS: Place the grilled fennel rings in a serving bowl. In a small measuring cup, whisk together the extra virgin olive oil and the remaining lemon juice. Taste and adjust the amount of oil or lemon juice if needed. Pour enough of the vinaigrette over the fennel to moisten and toss. Season to taste with salt and pepper and toss again. Sprinkle the fronds, lemon zest, and pecorino cheese over the fennel. Sprinkle on some red pepper flakes, to your taste. Serve warm or at room temperature.
  4. NOTE: The amounts I have provided are what I used. Feel free to make your own adjustments. Your fennel and lemon may be smaller or larger; you may like more or less cheese; etc.. Make adjustments where you see fit.

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