Celery, fennel and leek combined in a creamy sauce topped with a parmesan panko crunch makes for a unique side dish. —inpatskitchen
Test Kitchen Notes
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
4 to 6
Creamy fennel sauce
medium fennel bulb, cut into a small dice
filets of anchovies packed in oil and minced
ground fennel seed
1 1/4 cups
half and half
For the gratin
Large stalks celery, cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
small leek, white and light green part, halved lengthwise and then cut crosswise about 1/2 inch
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
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.
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!