Fennel & Cheese

“Fennel & Cheese in béchamel sauce” recipe – Sformato di finocchi

    • Prep Time
    • Minutes
    • Cook Time
    • Minutes

Fennel & Cheese - the ingredients

Total Cost: UK/£ 5,71*

Cost/portion: UK/£ 1,43*

Fennel, cheese and béchamel sauce…

Fennel & Cheese is a delicate side dish: steamed fennel, béchamel sauce and lots of parmigiano cheese and butter… do I have to add anything?

Just a suggestion: leave the top crust for last… it’s the best bit!

You can follow a more detailed recipe of béchamel sauce by clicking here

Related posts

Béchamel Sauce… “Balsamella”, as Artusi used to call it

Note for the users: please click on the label “HOW TO” to watch the slide-show of each cooking step.

* Please note that both total cost and cost per portion are approximate and that can vary according to seasons and to different conditions.

Recipe Rating

  • (1 Rating)

Ingredients

  • Fennel - 3 large

  • Parmigiano cheese - 70gr

  • Black pepper corns - 2gr

  • Salt - to taste

  • Butter - a few flakes for the topping

  • Ingredients for the béchamel

  • Whole milk - 0,6lt

  • Butter - 45gr

  • Plain flour - 45gr

  • Salt - 6gr

  • Utensils

  • One paring knife

  • One chopping board

  • One steamer or a deep saucepan with a steaming basket

  • One zester

  • One pestle and mortar

  • One medium backing tin

  • Utensils for the béchamel

  • Two small saucepans

  • One sieve

  • One wooden or silicon spatula

  • One ladle

  • One cooking probe (optional)

Instructions

  • 1.
    Cleaning and steaming the fennel

    • Fennel - 3 large
    • One paring knife
    • One chopping board
    • One steamer or a deep saucepan with a steaming basket

      Wash the whole fennel under running water, clean their taproots with a paring knife, then chop off its green stalks and the external layers if needed (step 1 - pic. A).
      Wash the fennel again under running water, then cut it in quarters or in smaller wedges (step 1 - pic. B).
      Fill the steamer with fresh water and fill the steamer tray with the fennel wedges and steam them for 20-22 minutes till thoroughly cooked and soft (step 1 - pic. C).
      Meanwhile, cooke the béchamel sauce.

  • 2.
    Making the béchamel sauce, grating the cheese and crushing the pepper

    • Whole milk - 0,6lt
    • Butter - 45gr
    • Plain flour - 45gr
    • Salt - 6gr
    • Parmigiano cheese - 70gr
    • Black pepper corns - 2gr
    • Two small saucepans
    • One sieve
    • One wooden or silicon spatula
    • One ladle
    • One cooking probe (optional)
    • One zester
    • One pestle and mortar

      Put the milk into one saucepan and put it on medium high heat.
      Grate the cheese with a zester and crush the black pepper into a pestle and mortar (step 2 - pic. A).
      When the milk is warm enough, add the salt and stir. It will need about 15 minutes to come to boil.
      After about 5 minutes, put the butter into the other saucepan and melt it gently over a low heat. It needs to melt completely but it must not fry.
      Sieve the flour directly into the saucepan with the melted butter and mix them thoroughly into a smooth and creamy paste (step 2 - pic. B).
      Increase the heat to a medium-low power and keep stirring the mixture until it will get slightly thicker and will start bubbling along the edges (step 2 - pic. C).
      This will take from 3 to 5 minutes of cooking, so you will have this done when the milk has started bubbling.
      When the milk starts to boil, add one ladle of it to the butter and flour mixture.
      Immediately mix them together and make the butter and flour paste incorporate the liquids completely (step 2 - pic. D).
      The mixture will become suddenly harder because the flour gels will get hydrated by the milk and they will swell up.
      Work on the mixture with the spatula and make sure there are no dry lumps of flour left.
      The milk must be added gradually one ladle at a time and must be completely adsorbed into the mixture before adding another one.
      After 4 or 5 ladles the paste will become looser and whiter (step 2 - pic. E)so it will be easier to add each time more and more milk until the base of the béchamel sauce will be ready.
      Flour gels cook at 92ºC so you will need to keep stirring the sauce until it gets to that temperature and then let it boil for another 6-8minutes.
      If you do not have a probe to check the temperature, simply let it cook for ten minutes after the it starts bubbling along the edges.
      While boiling, the sauce will reduce and thicken enough to “write”: it is ready.
      Turn on the oven and set it to 220ºC.

  • 3.
    Making the Fennel & Cheese layers

    • The steamed fennel wedges
    • Salt - to taste
    • The béchamel sauce
    • The grated cheese
    • The crushed black pepper - to taste
    • Butter - a few flakes for the topping
    • One ladle
    • One medium backing tin

      When ready, take the fennel wedges out of the steamer tray and let them chill for a couple of minutes.
      Then, season them on all sides with salt (step 3 - pic. A).
      Make one thin layer of béchamel sauce on the bottom or the baking tin and sprinkle it with parmigiano cheese (step 3 - pic. B).
      Arrange one layer of fennel wedges (step 3 - pic. C)and cover it with a generous layer of béchamel sauce and parmigiano cheese, then season with some black pepper to taste.
      Add a second layer of fennel wedges and cover it with another generous layer of béchamel sauce (step 3 - pic. D).
      Cover it with a abundance of parmigiano cheese and season with black pepper to taste, then distribute a few flakes of butter on top (step 3 - pic. E).

  • 4.
    Baking the Fennel & Cheese

    • Fennel & Cheese tin

      Put the tin into the hot oven, lower the temperature to 200ºC and let the pie cook for 15-18 minutes until it forms a thin, brown and crispy crust on top (step 4 pic).
      If necessary, use the upper grill to help the process.
      Let the pie rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Instructions

  • 1.
    Cleaning and steaming the fennel

    • Fennel - 3 large
    • One paring knife
    • One chopping board
    • One steamer or a deep saucepan with a steaming basket

      Wash the whole fennel under running water, clean their taproots with a paring knife, then chop off its green stalks and the external layers if needed (step 1 - pic. A).
      Wash the fennel again under running water, then cut it in quarters or in smaller wedges (step 1 - pic. B).
      Fill the steamer with fresh water and fill the steamer tray with the fennel wedges and steam them for 20-22 minutes till thoroughly cooked and soft (step 1 - pic. C).
      Meanwhile, cooke the béchamel sauce.

  • 2.
    Making the béchamel sauce, grating the cheese and crushing the pepper

    • Whole milk - 0,6lt
    • Butter - 45gr
    • Plain flour - 45gr
    • Salt - 6gr
    • Parmigiano cheese - 70gr
    • Black pepper corns - 2gr
    • Two small saucepans
    • One sieve
    • One wooden or silicon spatula
    • One ladle
    • One cooking probe (optional)
    • One zester
    • One pestle and mortar

      Put the milk into one saucepan and put it on medium high heat.
      Grate the cheese with a zester and crush the black pepper into a pestle and mortar (step 2 - pic. A).
      When the milk is warm enough, add the salt and stir. It will need about 15 minutes to come to boil.
      After about 5 minutes, put the butter into the other saucepan and melt it gently over a low heat. It needs to melt completely but it must not fry.
      Sieve the flour directly into the saucepan with the melted butter and mix them thoroughly into a smooth and creamy paste (step 2 - pic. B).
      Increase the heat to a medium-low power and keep stirring the mixture until it will get slightly thicker and will start bubbling along the edges (step 2 - pic. C).
      This will take from 3 to 5 minutes of cooking, so you will have this done when the milk has started bubbling.
      When the milk starts to boil, add one ladle of it to the butter and flour mixture.
      Immediately mix them together and make the butter and flour paste incorporate the liquids completely (step 2 - pic. D).
      The mixture will become suddenly harder because the flour gels will get hydrated by the milk and they will swell up.
      Work on the mixture with the spatula and make sure there are no dry lumps of flour left.
      The milk must be added gradually one ladle at a time and must be completely adsorbed into the mixture before adding another one.
      After 4 or 5 ladles the paste will become looser and whiter (step 2 - pic. E)so it will be easier to add each time more and more milk until the base of the béchamel sauce will be ready.
      Flour gels cook at 92ºC so you will need to keep stirring the sauce until it gets to that temperature and then let it boil for another 6-8minutes.
      If you do not have a probe to check the temperature, simply let it cook for ten minutes after the it starts bubbling along the edges.
      While boiling, the sauce will reduce and thicken enough to “write”: it is ready.
      Turn on the oven and set it to 220ºC.

  • 3.
    Making the Fennel & Cheese layers

    • The steamed fennel wedges
    • Salt - to taste
    • The béchamel sauce
    • The grated cheese
    • The crushed black pepper - to taste
    • Butter - a few flakes for the topping
    • One ladle
    • One medium backing tin

      When ready, take the fennel wedges out of the steamer tray and let them chill for a couple of minutes.
      Then, season them on all sides with salt (step 3 - pic. A).
      Make one thin layer of béchamel sauce on the bottom or the baking tin and sprinkle it with parmigiano cheese (step 3 - pic. B).
      Arrange one layer of fennel wedges (step 3 - pic. C)and cover it with a generous layer of béchamel sauce and parmigiano cheese, then season with some black pepper to taste.
      Add a second layer of fennel wedges and cover it with another generous layer of béchamel sauce (step 3 - pic. D).
      Cover it with a abundance of parmigiano cheese and season with black pepper to taste, then distribute a few flakes of butter on top (step 3 - pic. E).

  • 4.
    Baking the Fennel & Cheese

    • Fennel & Cheese tin

      Put the tin into the hot oven, lower the temperature to 200ºC and let the pie cook for 15-18 minutes until it forms a thin, brown and crispy crust on top (step 4 pic).
      If necessary, use the upper grill to help the process.
      Let the pie rest for 5 minutes before serving.

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