Oregano and fennel gratin

Oregano and fennel gratin

By
From
The Herb & Flower Cookbook
Serves
2
Cooking time
35 mins

I had planned this dish to be made with sage, but the gently aromatic flavour of the fennel was overpowered with the herb’s robust strength. For something this filled with cheese, it tasted really bad. Oregano on the other hand was an unexpected delight – its subtle Italian hint working with and not against the fennel. Creamy, rich and delicately delicious.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
1 fennel bulb
3 spring onions, chopped
25g butter
2 tablespoons flour
350ml milk
2 tablespoons oregano, chopped
100g mature cheddar cheese, grated
2 slices white bread, crusts removed

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Wash the fennel and trim off its base and head. Quarter it and place it in a steamer over boiling water for 6–7 minutes until soft. Remove from the steamer and transfer to a roasting dish. Scatter the spring onions over and around them.
  2. Melt the butter in a saucepan over a medium heat, add the flour and whisk together to make a thick, smooth paste. Gradually add the milk a little at a time, while constantly stirring, until you have a beautiful pale and glossy sauce. Add the oregano and most of the cheese, stirring to stop the sauce from catching on the bottom, and bring it to a very slow boil. As soon as it starts to bubble, pour the sauce over the fennel and spring onions.
  3. Blitz the bread in a food processor to make breadcrumbs and sprinkle them over the top of the cheesy fennel along with the last of the grated cheese. Place the dish in the oven for 20 minutes – you may wish to finish it off with 5 minutes under the grill if you don’t think it’s brown enough on top. Serve with a green salad and crusty bread.

Substitute the oregano with...

  • Basil, chive or tarragon.
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