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Fork-Tender Roasted Fennel with Parmesan

4.82 from 11 votes

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This roasted fennel recipe is tender, sweet and oh-so-delicious! Bake this easy side dish in the oven under a blanket of mozzarella and Parmesan cheese, topped with crunchy breadcrumbs. Yum!

Roasted fennel bulb wedges in an oval gratin dish, topped with melted cheese and fresh fennel fronds.
Roasted fennel is baked with cheese, garlic and herbs until fork-tender and caramelized.

Have you tried roasted fennel? Don’t miss out — it’s one of the best vegetable recipes you can make, and far from ordinary. This recipe shows that roasting is one of the best ways to use fennel!

Fennel is same vegetable that lends its light anise licorice flavor and delicate crunch to quick slaws and salads transforms in the oven, becoming fork-tender, mild and sweet. It works perfectly as the star in a warm, cheesy vegetable gratin.

What does fennel taste like?

Fennel is a vegetable also known as Florence fennel or finocchio. Botanically it’s a member of the carrot family, along with celery. It has a pleasant natural sweetness, with a crisp, bulb section with stalks, and feathery fennel fronds on top.

It tastes like anise, with a sweet licorice-like flavor that people tend to either love or despise. Roasted fennel becomes meltingly tender, and its distinctive licorice flavor becomes sweet and muted.

A serving of baked fennel bulb on a plate, with an oval baking dish and spoon next to it.

So if you’re not sure if you even like fennel, roasting it is a much more approachable way to start enjoying it.

In this fennel recipe, the vegetable’s natural flavor profile is amplified by some simple Italian-style seasonings — fennel seeds, chili flakes, plenty of garlic and lots of cheese.

Roasted Fennel Parmigiano with Crunchy Breadcrumbs

Sliced fennel baked like a gratin makes a delicious alternative to the usual suspects like potatoes and other root vegetables.

Plus, I can tell you it smells amazing as it bakes. Serve it with a simple whole roasted chicken, quick sauteed broccoli and enjoy a cozy meal!

Expert tips for preparing fresh fennel:

  • Choose fresh bulbs that still have their stalks and fronds attached, which is a good sign of freshness. The feathery leaves also have delicate flavor and make a beautiful garnish.
  • Look for fennel bulbs with outer layers that are firm and white, not dried and turning brown.
  • Use a vegetable peeler to trim the outer layers, removing any tough parts and fibers.
  • To ensure the fennel is tender after roasting, the wedges are blanched for one minute in boiling water.
  • Gluten free breadcrumbs can be substituted.
  • The stalks can be tough and stringy, but they can be saved. They are perfect to throw in vegetable soups, chicken broth, and seafood soups (like Julia Child’s Bouillabaisse)

Fork-Tender Roasted Fennel Parmesan

Karen Tedesco
This roasted fennel with Parmesan and breadcrumbs is a cheesy gratin that will have you swooning! The bulb becomes tender and sweet in the oven, so delicious as a side dish with roasted chicken or seafood.
Print Pin
4.82 from 11 votes
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Total Time 40 mins
Course Vegetables
Cuisine Italian
Servings 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 ½ pounds (1135 g) fresh fennel, 3 or 4 small bulbs
  • Salt
  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
  • 3 garlic cloves, pressed or smashed into a paste with a large knife
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • Pinch of crushed red chili pepper
  • 8 ounces (225 g) fresh whole milk mozzarella, shredded or sliced thinly
  • ½ cup coarse fresh bread crumbs
  • ½ cup (50 g) grated Parmigiano cheese
  • 1 tablespoon chopped Italian parsley

Instructions 

  • Preheat oven to 375 (190) degrees.
  • Trim off the fennel stalks, reserving some of the feathery leaves for garnish. Make a thin slice on the bottom of each bulb to clean the root end, but keep the base intact. Use a vegetable peeler to pare the outer layer of the bulb, removing any discolored and tough, stringy parts. Slice into ½-inch thick wedges.
  • Boil the fennel for 1 minute in a pot of lightly salted water. Drain well and pat dry.
  • Put the fennel in a shallow baking dish. Combine the olive oil, fennel seeds, garlic, rosemary, chili and ½ teaspoon salt in a small bowl.
  • Pour the oil mixture over the fennel and toss well so that each piece is evenly coated. Cover the fennel with the mozzarella cheese, then sprinkle the bread crumbs over. Sprinkle with the parmesan.
  • Bake 25-30 minutes, until the fennel is tender, and the cheese is browned and bubbling. Sprinkle with the parsley and some of the fennel frond leaves and serve.

Karen’s Notes and Tips

  • Make ahead: The fennel can be prepped and arranged in a baking dish with the cheese and refrigerated up to 2 days before roasting.
This recipe was adapted from Market Cooking: Recipes and Revelations, Ingredient by Ingredient by David Tanis.

Nutrition

Calories: 250kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 13g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Sodium: 431mg | Potassium: 63mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 384IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 304mg | Iron: 1mg
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Hey, I’m Karen

Creator of Familystyle Food

I’m a food obsessed super-taster and professionally trained cook ALL about making cooking fun and doable, with easy to follow tested recipes and incredibly tasty food! Read more about me here.

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5 Comments

  1. melinda rinehart says:

    5 stars
    Excellent alongside grilled salmon! Or alone! I can’t wait to serve it to company!

  2. 5 stars
    Was fantastic method! Didn’t have rosemary or fennel seeds so subbed Italian herbs. Minced them with garlic, salt and red pepper, scattered that over top and then poured oil through them.

    1. Dave, I’m so glad you enjoyed it! Substituting Italian herbs sounds perfect 🙂

  3. 5 stars
    Oh! I love roasted fennel! This will be on our table soon! XO –L