Finocchi gratinati - Gratinéed Fennel | Le Marche and Food |

Fennel makes a delightful contorno or vegetarian secondo. Cooking brings out its mellow sweetness and intensifies its flavorm and turns its crispness into velvety tenderness. Fennel can cook along with a main ingredient, as in our recent post on pesce al forno con finocchi, or it can be made on its own. One classic method is to braise it first and then gratinée it in a hot oven or under the broiler until golden brown, either with or without béchamel sauce. While it is probably more common to see this dish made with béchamel, I prefer to top the fennel just with abundant grated parmesan cheese and perhaps a few dabs of butter. It's a bit lighter and, to my mind, brings out the taste of the fennel more assertively. Made with béchamel, on the other hand, it's rich enough to serve as a vegetarian second course.


For the braising:
4 fennel bulbs
Enough water (or broth), or enough to come about 1 cm (1/2 inch) up the side of your pan
50g (2 oz.) butter, cut into pieces
Salt, q.b.

For the gratinée:
100g (4 oz.) parmesan cheese
A few dabs of butter (optional)
Breadcrumbs (optional)
250ml (1 cup) (or more) of béchamel sauce (optional)

Click on the photo for Directions