Potato gratin is one of my favorite celebratory side dishes, but sometimes it's fun to switch it up (whether it's a holiday or not). This gratin replaces the potatoes with thinly sliced fennel, which is a veggie I love and use all the time. It's great raw in salads, and it's a great substitute for celery in pretty much everything if you're not a celery fan (like me). This gratin is yet another use for this versatile vegetable. Despite all the cream, the dish feels much lighter than a potato gratin, with tender slices of fennel in cream sauce covered with a blanket of Parmesan bread crumbs. Serve this next to simple roasted meat or as part of a holiday side dish spread, and it's sure to add something special to your meal.
Crispy Creamy Fennel Gratin (adapted from Serious Eats, original recipe here)
2 large fennel bulbs, thinly sliced (I used a food processor)
1 cup heavy cream
2 T water
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup panko
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 T chopped parsley
1 T olive oil
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spray a 2-quart casserole dish with oil.
2. In a large skillet or pot, combine the fennel, cream, and water. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Transfer to the casserole dish.
3. While the fennel-cream mixture is coming to a simmer, mix together the panko, Parmesan, parsley, and olive oil in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper, and mix to combine. Sprinkle over the fennel
4. Place the dish on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake until the topping is golden and crisp, 30 minutes.