Celery and Fennel Gratin

March 15, 2012

Test Kitchen-Approved

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!Victoria Ross

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 cups half and half

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 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup panko crumbs
In This Recipe


Creamy fennel sauce

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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

  1. 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)
  2. 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 .
  3. 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.

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Reviews (12) Questions (0)

12 Reviews

Coleen November 22, 2013
Any tips to make ahead?
Author Comment
inpatskitchen November 23, 2013
Hi Coleen! I've never made this ahead but I would think you could cook it early but wait to add the panko and parmesan and then do that last bake just before serving. (It might take a little longer) Please let me know how it goes...
Anna L. November 20, 2013
Made this with a few substitutions:<br />-Only one Tbls oil to saute the fennel in<br />-1 cup almond milk in place of the cream<br />-1-2 tsp soy sauce (or to taste for you) for the anchovies<br />-I "sauteed" onion and celery in water for the gratin<br />-Used half the topping with quick oats and parmesan<br /><br />DELICIOUS! This was my first time cooking with fennel bulbs and it won't be the last; this one is going in the recipe box!
Author Comment
inpatskitchen November 21, 2013
Your version sounds terrific! Glad you enjoyed..
i.m. July 17, 2012
I made this without the breadcrumb topping and I didn't have any celery but it was beautiful. The best warming wintery way to enjoy fennel <br />
Author Comment
inpatskitchen July 17, 2012
So glad you enjoyed this. Stay warm wherever you are...I'l try to stay cool..temps rising to 102 today (i don't think the oven will be on LOL)
Greatfallsdeb April 8, 2012
I tried this today for Easter and OMG- my new favorite side dish. It was wonderful. I followed the recipe exactly although I am not a big fan of anchovies. I read before that they really cook away to nothing but flavor and it is true. Don't be afraid to use them- it was perfection.
Author Comment
inpatskitchen April 9, 2012
Thanks so much Greatfallsdeb! I'm so glad you enjoyed this...and I'm so glad you used the anchovies..they can add so much to a number of dishes.
enbe April 4, 2012
Why oh why the anchovies?! I'll try it without but I suspect this will be one of the times I wish I ate 'em.
Author Comment
inpatskitchen April 5, 2012
Let me know how it is without, but they give the dish a little "something" that I really like.
little.anomaly April 4, 2012
What temperature should the oven be set at originally to bake?
Author Comment
inpatskitchen April 4, 2012
Oh I'm sorry..I thought it was there (my proof reading has gone astray). First bake is at 350F. I'll fix it in the recipe. Thanks for pointing this out.