When fennel is cooked long and slow, it develops a mellow sweetness and meltingly soft texture. In this mac-and-cheese-inspired gratin by chef Steven Satterfield, strands of sliced fennel are baked in a creamy béchamel sauce with nutty gruyère and sharp white cheddar. It may very well become your new favorite indulgence, and there are vegetables in every forkful.
Serves 6 to 8
4 large (or 6 small) fennel bulbs
5 tablespoons butter
5 tablespoons flour
3½ cups whole milk, warmed
5 ounces gruyère cheese, grated (about 2 cups)
5 ounces aged white cheddar cheese, grated (about 2 cups)
1 tablespoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup plain dry breadcrumbs
- Preheat oven with a rack in the center to 375 degrees. Cut fennel bulb into ⅛-inch-thick matchsticks. In a shallow, 2-quart baking dish, place fennel and set aside.
- In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add flour. Cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in warm milk until smooth. Bring to gentle simmer. Cook for 2 minutes. Add both cheeses, salt and pepper. Whisk until cheese is melted and incorporated.
- Pour cheese sauce over fennel. Stir well to combine. Scatter breadcrumbs evenly across surface of fennel. Press with palms of your hands so they get coated in cheese sauce.
- On a rimmed baking sheet, place dish and bake, uncovered, until crumbs on top are deep golden brown and cheese sauce is hot and bubbling, about 1 hour. Let cool for 10-15 minutes before serving fennel gratin.
Recipe ByAdapted from Vegetable Revelations by Steven Satterfield (Harper Wave). Copyright © 2023.