Fennel Gratin W Tarragon and Lemon


2 large fennel bulbs, core and stalks removed and thinly sliced
1 med yellow onion, peeled and thinly sliced
2 garlic clove, finely minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, separated
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups unsweetened soymilk, unsweetened almond milk, or dairy milk<
1 tablespoon fresh tarragon, finely chopped
1 tablespoon lemon zest
kosher salt, to taste
ground white pepper, to taste


Preheat oven to 375-degrees;
Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat; add olive oil; sauté onion until it becomes soft and translucent, approximately 5 minutes; add minced garlic and sliced fennel; sauté until fennel softens, approximately 15 - 20 minutes; season lightly with kosher salt and ground white pepper; set aside and cool
In a sauce pan, add 3 T of unsalted butter; melt over medium heat; add all-purpose flour and thoroughly combine using a whisk; cook mixture for 2 - 3 minutes to make a white roux, stirring constantly
DO NOT ALLOW ROUX TO DARKEN IN COLOR… this will effect presentation and taste
Add soymilk (almond or dairy) to roux, slowly and constantly stirring so that no lumps form; cook mixture over medium-low heat for approximately 6 minutes, constantly stirring, until sauce starts to thicken and no longer tastes like raw flour
Remove sauce from heat; add just a pinch of fresh nutmeg; season lightly with kosher salt and ground white pepper; whisk in grated Fontina cheese until sauce is smooth
The sauce should be thick; but not so think that you can lay a brick with it; if it is too thick; just add a few tablespoons of water to loosen up a little to maintain a creamy, smooth texture
Fold sautéed fennel mixture into the sauce; taste and adjust seasoning accordingly; pour into a shallow casserole dish; and set aside
In a medium sauté pan, melt remaining unsalted butter over medium-high heat; add breadcrumbs, tarragon, and lemon zest; remove from heat and sprinkle over fennel mixture; top with Pecorino Romano; bake for 20 – 25 minutes until the edges are bubbly; and the top is a deep golden brown.


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10 servings


Monday, May 9, 2011 - 9:18am


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