Grilled Baby Fennel with Lemon and Pecorino

May  8, 2011
3 Ratings
  • Serves 4-6
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. - Waverly —Waverly

Test Kitchen Notes

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. - lorinarlock —Lori Lyn Narlock

What You'll Need
  • 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)
  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.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • fiveandspice
  • TheWimpyVegetarian
  • Waverly
  • gingerroot
Waverly used to be a lawyer and is now a mother 24/7. She has made a commitment to cooking for her family and absolutely loves it even when her family does not. She is teaching them, one meal at a time, to enjoy wholesome homemade food. She abhors processed food but recognizes its insidious nature and accepts the fact that her children will occasionally get some Skittles, Doritos, or the like. Her philosophy and hope is that if she teaches them well at home, they will prefer wholesome healthy foods when they go out into the world without her.

7 Reviews

fiveandspice May 9, 2011
This sounds phenomenal! I've never tried grilling fennel. That must change.
marshengrl99 May 9, 2011
I wouldn't dream of making this without the red pepper flakes! Sounds awesome!
Waverly May 9, 2011
I agree. The red pepper is fantastic.
I love fennel but have never grilled it. I'm going to have correct that serious oversight immediately with this recipe! Thanks for posting!
Waverly May 9, 2011
I hope you like it!
Waverly May 8, 2011
Thanks, gingerroot!
gingerroot May 8, 2011
Yum! I'm a huge fan of fennel, especially grilled or roasted, and this sounds perfect.