A long time ago I fell in love with Gratin dishes when I was working in Nancy in France. There was an art theatre there that often showed films in English, so I was a regular visitor. Close by, maybe even next door, was a little cafe that served only gratin style dishes. It was very convenient to have a meal and then pop next door to the theatre, so it became routine for me to visit. It was so good, I still remember it fondly, especially its Poire Belle Helene Dessert.
We have a number of gratin dishes here as a result of that little cafe, and today it is a Fennel Gratin made utterly delicious with feta and honey. The recipe comes from Ilva Berreta, food photographer and former food blogger. I miss her blog, it was full of the most delightful stories and recipes.
Similar dishes include Goat’s Milk Feta with Pine Nuts and Preserved Lemon, Potatoes and Cheddar Gratin, Gratinéed Sweet Potato, and Pasta Bake with Cheddar and Cheese.
Baked Fennel Stuffed with Feta, Rosemary and Honey
1 fennel bulb per person (or 0.5 each if they are large)
soft feta cheese or sheep’s or goat’s cheese. I get a wonderful feta from my local Afghan/Middle Eastern shop – soft and creamy like Persian feta
fresh rosemary – use the young tips of the plant
Trim the fennel bulb, removing the tougher outer layer. Trim the top, leaving about 2/3 of the bulb.
Take a small sharp spoon or knife and carefully remove the core of the bulb, leaving a medium thick outer wall with an inner space.
Simmer these bulbs in salted water for 2 or 3 minutes, then drain them well, standing upside down.
Chop the parts of the fennel that you removed, together with any usable parts of the top, and braise in olive oil with the rosemary, until soft. Mix this with as much crumbled feta as you like and spoon it into the fennel bulbs.
Bake in the oven until golden. Before serving, drizzle some nice honey over the bulbs.
recipe notes and alternatives
Instead of rosemary, use grated lemon zest, or thyme leaves. Lemon rind is good too.