Italian Braised Fennel and Leeks

July  5, 2021
3 Ratings
  • Prep time 15 minutes
  • Cook time 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Makes about 4 servings
Author Notes

About a week and a half ago fisheri posted a recipe which he called "A Great Pasta, Waiting for a Recipe"
where he describes a pasta recipe mentioned in David Tanis' Heart of the Artichoke listing ingredients but no amounts. I was intrigued, played around with the ingredients and made a bowl which as fisheri described was "subtle and sublime". A couple of days later I added diced fresh fennel, leeks, tomato and chicken broth and made another pasta. I was hooked on the flavors and so today put everything together for braised fennel and leeks. I'm a very happy camper! Thanks fisheri.....now I have three wonderful plays on this! —inpatskitchen

Test Kitchen Notes

This dish packs a flavorful punch. Fennel and leeks are simmered in the oven until they are soft and sweet, making a great canvas for the punchy, anchovy-spiked sauce. Fresh oregano adds an herbal note and red pepper flakes add heat. This recipe takes some time to come together, but the hour-long braise gives you time to make a main dish (or enjoy a glass of wine, like we did!). Each bite is a combination of sweet, savory, and salty--but it's the anchovies that leave a lasting impression on the palate. They really make this dish shine. —duclosbe1

What You'll Need
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon ground fennel seed
  • 1 medium tomato, seeded and finely diced
  • 4 anchovy filets, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 1/4 cups chicken broth
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • 3 nice size leeks, white and pale green only, halved lengthwise (about 6 to 8 inches long)
  • 2 cups sliced fresh fennel bulb, cut into pieces about 3 inches long and 1/4 to 1/2 inch wide
  • 2 tablespoons panko crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated parmesan
  1. In a large saute pan heat the oil and add the garlic and crushed red pepper. Saute for about 2 minutes and add the ground fennel seed.
  2. Add the tomato, oregano and anchovies and simmer for about 2 minutes.
  3. Add the chicken broth and continue to simmer for 3 or 4 more minutes. Adjust seasoning with salt and black pepper if desired.
  4. Line the leeks in a 9 x 11 inch shallow baking dish. Spread the fennel slices over and then pour the sauce over all.
  5. Cover tightly with foil and bake at 350F for 45 minutes.
  6. Raise the oven temp to 400F and bake uncovered for 15 minutes.
  7. Combine the panko and cheese, sprinkle over the casserole and bake (at 400F) another 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Änneken
  • ShelbyBelby
  • ihaventpoisonedyouyet
  • lloreen
  • Sagegreen

Recipe by: inpatskitchen

I think I get my love for food and cooking from my mom, who was an amazing cook. She would start baking and freezing a month before Christmas in order to host our huge open house on Christmas afternoon. I watched and I learned...to this day I try not to procrastinate when it comes to entertaining. My cooking style is pretty much all over the place, although I'm definitely partial to Greek and Italian cuisine. Oh yes, throw a little Cajun in there too!

27 Reviews

Catherine January 11, 2022
This is an excellent dish. While Im not one to chow down on anchovies, they add an interesting dimension to this dish. Ony made one minor change, instead of leaving the leeks long(still halved lengthwise), I cut into 3-4" batons in order to make serving easier, and it did.
Änneken July 5, 2021
Simple & good.
moss2s February 10, 2021
Hi, I just made this and it was delicious however I had so much broth in the pan at the end of the baking time; no matter, very tasty. Should it have cooked down?
inpatskitchen February 10, 2021
Hi moss2s! I've not had this problem yet. Maybe try just adding one cup of broth. Reserve the 1/4 cup for after uncovering if it needs it. So happy you liked this though...thanks so much!
ShelbyBelby May 9, 2016
i love this dish and have been making it for around 4 years now! delicious every time, every ingredients adds something. really got me to look at leeks in a better way too :)
inpatskitchen May 10, 2016
Thanks so much Shelby!!
Kerry G. January 20, 2016
Soooooo GOOD! I can't get enough of Italian braised vegetables, and this combination of flavours was wonderful. I braised in Dutch oven on stove because oven was otherwise busy. Added back bacon (like a good Canadian), a hunk of parm rind, pre-roasted garlic, and carrots. No leeks available, so subbed shallots and red onion. Added lemon juice, red chard, and parsley at end, and a bit of sugar to balance tomatoes.
inpatskitchen January 21, 2016
Your recipe sounds wonderful!
ihaventpoisonedyouyet January 17, 2014
Although it bears not a shred of resemblance to the photograph illustrating the recipe, this is a five star dish. One of the best, easy to assemble dishes I have made - one I would be proud to serve to guests and absolutely fall on the ground delicious. The anchovies are genius and give a depth to the vegetables which are pleasant on their own, but which achieve new heights with this simple addition. I don't usually rave about recipes but this was so easy and so delicious, both right out of the oven and the next day, that a friend who was invited over for dinner insisted on taking the leftovers home because they were fearful it wouldn't be around the next day. An absolute keeper.
inpatskitchen January 18, 2014
Thanks so much ihaventpoisonedyouyet! So glad you and your friend enjoyed..I'm no photographer and the pic of the finished dish just didn't come out right!
lloreen April 5, 2013
I made this twice this week and it is a huge hit! I left out the cheese and Panko and it is delicious as is. I used Aleppo pepper, which has a lovely smokiness. Great recipe.
inpatskitchen April 5, 2013
Thanks lloreen! I'm so glad you enjoyed!
Sagegreen February 27, 2012
inpatskitchen February 27, 2012
It IS yummy! Thanks Sagegreen!
LeBec F. February 26, 2012
this is just brilliant AND I AM GOING TO MAKE IT!!!!! pat, you might also enjoy a recipe related to yours in the fennel seed/tomato/garlic aspect, but very different too-- It's braised mushrooms. In my 30 yr catering co, I made a vegetarian hors d'oeuvre out of it by piping a sundried tomato butter on a crostini and topping it with these mushrooms. Since you are a great dabbler, maybe you'll look at the mushroom recipe and riff!


3/4 C Oil

5 ½ Lbs Sliced Mushrooms

salt and pepper

3 chopped Onions

1 ½ T Minced Garlic

3 T Fennel Seeds

3 T Basil

2 T Marjoram

2- 2 lb Cans tomatoes drained and crushed

5 C Red Wine

1 C Balsamic Vinegar

Saute mushrooms in oil with the salt and pepper to taste cook until liquid is evaporated. Saute onions and garlic. Add remaining ingredients and cook down before adding mushrooms.

Yield 12 cups
inpatskitchen February 26, 2012
Thank you so much Mindy! The mushrooms sound fabulous...I will make them soon...You should post this for all to see! And if you do make these please let me know what you think..
LeBec F. February 26, 2012
you know, pat, i THOUGHT these were a silver palate recipe but unless they're in their very first, whitre cover book, i'm wrong , and i can't remember where else they come from. phooey. i always want to give credit to the creators of any recipe.
boulangere February 26, 2012
inpatskitchen February 26, 2012
I almost forgot that this had anchovy in it...I'm working on another "riff" of this for dinner tonight!
gingerroot September 30, 2011
Love this!
inpatskitchen September 30, 2011
Oh thank you gingerroot! The flavor is pretty assertive but oh so good!
Niknud September 29, 2011
So I've been going through the recipes of the past couple of days and they are all so amazing! Anchovies are great - they can add so much to so many dishes This one looks just wonderful.
inpatskitchen September 29, 2011
Thanks so much!
SKK September 28, 2011
Fennel and leeks - two favorites! Anchovies - what a great idea!
inpatskitchen September 28, 2011
Thank you SKK...I really think the anchovy and ground fennel make this dish!
boulangere September 27, 2011
Mmmmmm. Love the anchovies along with all you other beautiful flavors. I can practically taste it now.
inpatskitchen September 28, 2011
Thanks! I know... the anchovies are a perfect enhancer!!