Fennel gratin, fennel is a vegetable that is very often grown in home gardens. Characterized by a crunchy and very aromatic pulp, with notes reminiscent of anise and licorice, fennel lends itself to numerous dishes and different cooking methods: they can be eaten raw in salads, boiled or stir-fried.
One of the best ways to enjoy them is certainly to prepare a nice pan of baked fennel gratin: covered with abundant béchamel and possibly enriched with cheese and cooked ham, this rich and tasty side dish is perfect for a family lunch.
Preparing fennel gratin is very simple, just be very careful not to over-boil them, so that after passing in the oven they are still compact and firm.
Preparation time: 45 minutes
Seasonality: spring recipes
Dish: side dish
Ingredients for 4 people:
1 kg of fennel
150 g of cooked ham in a single slice
500 ml milk
40 g of flour type 00
40 g of butter
40 g of grated parmesan
salt and nutmeg to taste
How to prepare fennel au gratin
The first thing in the recipe is to prepare the vegetables: wash the fennel and cut each into 8 wedges. Bring plenty of lightly salted water to a boil then cook the fennel for about 15 minutes: they must remain firm enough. Drain and set aside.
It is then necessary to complete the preparation with two fundamental elements: the béchamel and cooking in the oven that will make our side dish au gratin.
Making the bechamel
While the fennel is cooking in water, prepare the béchamel: melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat. Turn off the heat, add the flour all together and mix well with a whisk to dissolve any lumps. Salt and add a generous grating of nutmeg. Add the milk a little at a time, always stirring. Put the béchamel back on low heat and cook, stirring constantly until it thickens. Season with salt, turn off and set aside.
Bechamel is a really important element for classic fennel au gratin, although there are also baked fennel made without bechamel. It is a less tasty recipe, but on the other hand it is a light and dietary side dish. Those who are vegan will not be able to use butter, however, it is not necessary to give up the bechamel, since there are rice creams that have a similar yield.
Fennel bake – Gratin in the oven
The last step of the recipe is to cook our fennel gratin in the oven. Obviously this is a fundamental step: you need to know how to gild the surface without scorching too much. It will be good to supervise the oven during cooking to remove the pan at the right time.
Take a baking dish and dirty the bottom with a little béchamel sauce. Arrange the fennel and diced ham. Cover with the remaining béchamel, sprinkle with grated parmesan and cook au gratin in a convection oven at 200 ° for about 15-20 minutes or in any case until the desired degree of browning.
Variations to the classic fennel gratin
Fennel gratin in the oven can be customized to make them even tastier and tastier. If you liked the recipe with ham and bechamel, try these alternative variations.
Speck or ham. You can make the fennel au gratin even tastier by replacing the cooked ham with diced speck.
Scamorza or pecorino. You can enrich the fennel gratin by adding cubes of sweet or smoked scamorza cheese, or by replacing all or part of the parmesan with pecorino.
Vegetarian variant. Pieces of dried tomatoes can replace the diced ham in the recipe, the important thing is to have a very tasty element that contrasts with the sweet and aromatic taste of fennel. If you avoid ham, the side dish becomes vegetarian, while for vegans you need to use rice béchamel and also avoid parmesan.