Braised Fennel

September 23, 2007 at 12:05 pm (B_minus (2.5 stars), Italian, Jack Bishop, Quick weeknight recipe, Vegetable dishes)

This recipe is from Jack Bishop’s Complete Italian Vegetarian Cookbook. He says “While sauteing fennel emphasizes its sweetness, braising it in butter and white wine highlights the dense, almost unctuous texture of this versatile vegetable. A dusting of Parmesan complements the rich flavors in this dish.”

  • 2 medium fennel bulbs (about 2 pounds)
  • 3 Tbs. butter
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Trim and discard the stems and fronds from the fennel bulbs. Trim a very thin slice from the base of each bulb and remove and tough or blemished outer layers. Slice the bulbs through the base into 1/2-inch-thick pieces that resemble fans. Do not remove the core.

2. Melt the butter in a saute pan large enough to hold the fennel in a single layer. Add the fennel and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Add the wine, cover, and simmer over medium heat for 15 minutes. Turn the fennel and continue to simmer, covered, until it is quite tender and has absorbed most of the liquid in the pan, about 10 minutes. (I like to carmelize it a little bit at this point, but make sure to watch it carefully so it doesn’t burn).

3. Sprinkle the fennel with the cheese and serve immediately.

My Notes:

I had one very large fennel bulb, which weighed almost 1.5 pounds. I used 1 Tbs. olive oil and 1/2 Tbs. butter, along with the white wine. I made my fennel in a tall narrow 2 qt pot, so it didn’t get carmelized at all. After flipping and cooking for another 10 minute I thought it still wasn’t soft enough, so I cooked it for another 10 minutes. I added 1/2 ounce parmesan, and sprinkled with a little truffle salt. The dish made about 3 cups, and would make 3-4 side servings.

This dish doesn’t have a strong fennel flavor, but it is definitely “unctous” as Bishop says. Yes, it is rich, but it tastes way richer than it actually is. I liked the truffle flavor, but I think it would be tasty even without the truffle salt. I’m not sure how it would taste without the cheese. I’ll try it next time. I also want to try it with only 1 Tbs. of olive oil, as it is still quite rich.

The appearance of this dish isn’t great. It’s not very colorful, and the pieces are odd shaped and get kind of long and limp as they cook. So it ends up looking like a pale green pile of limp stringy stuff, with a creamy sauce. Anyone have any ideas on how to improve the presentation? Or alternative ideas for seasoning the fennel?

I made a marinade for tempeh bacon with apple cider vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, and liquid smoke, and I accidentally splashed a bit on a little of the fennel. The combo was delicious! Something to try next time.

Serving Size: 1/3 recipe

Amount Per Serving
Calories 157
Total Fat 8g
Saturated Fat 2.6g
Cholesterol 8mg
Sodium 378mg
Carbohydrate 15.6g
Dietary Fiber 6.5g
Sugars 0g
Protein 4.3g
Vitamin A 7% Vitamin C 42%
Calcium 16% Iron 9%


  1. Maria Gatti said,

    leeks (as the Gazette columnist says today) are also very good this way, and there are a great many at the market.

    I haven’t seen any locally-grown fennel – this time of the year I only eat local stuff, with the exception of lemons and other things that never grow here. But I’ll keep this in mind for the dismal season when there is little local food.

  2. Fennel braised in vegetable broth « The captious vegetarian said,

    […] rosemary puree with the beans.  But what to do with the fennel?  I remember making (and loving) a braised fennel recipe from Jack Bishop’s Italian Vegetarian cookbook many years ago, but for some reason I […]

  3. What to do with fennel? « The captious vegetarian said,

    […] Braised in vegetable broth or in white wine […]

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