05 June 2011

Caramelised Fennel & Goat's Cheese

A little fennel appeared in my vege box.  I know fennel is one of those polarising tastes, a little like coriander, or cilantro for my American friends.  It seems you either love it or you hate it.  I fall firmly in the I love fennel camp.  Raw in salads, roasted, braised, coated in a little Parmesan and breadcrumbs and sauteed, and I reckon I could turn a few haters in to lovers with this fennel ice cream.  Not one person has not fallen in love with the subtly fennel infused ice cream, the end result so much greater than the sum of its parts.  Revelationary is an understatement, and so far, for me, no ice cream I have had beats this one.

It was back to Ottolenghi for a some new fennel inspiration, yes I certainly seem to be on a little bit of an Ottolenghi phase, or rather another Ottolenghi phase.  It is hard not to go back to Plenty, it is just such an inspiring book. From the get go it  made it in to the handful of favourite cook books that I turn to again and again as they never fail to inspire and deliver something new and wonderful for the taste buds.

This recipe not only had fennel but another perennial favourite of mine, goat's cheese.  Sharp tangy goat's cheese with sweet fennel sounded like an harmonious combination. It didn't disappoint.

Caramelized Fennel and Goat's Cheese, courtesy of Yotam Ottolenghi's Plenty

The master used goat's curd which I didn't have so I substituted with goat's cheese.  Regular sugar is also a suitable substitute for the caster sugar.  It is also easy enough to adjust the quantities down to serve 2.  I just used 1 regular sized fennel bulb.

Serves 4


4 small fennel bulbs
40g unsalted butter
3 tbsp olive oil, plus extra to finish
2 tbsp caster sugar
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 garlic clove, crushed
50g dill, leaves and stalks, roughly chopped
140gs goat's curd cheese, or goat's cheese
Zest of 1 lemon, grated
Salt and pepper


Remove the green fronds from the fennel and set aside.   Remove any tough or brown outer layers and slice off a little of the root, not all of it as you need a little to hold the slices together.  Cut the bulbs length ways in to 1.5cm / 3/4 inch thick slices.

Melt half the butter with half the olive oil over a high heat in a large frying pan.  When the butter starts to foam add a single layer of the sliced fennel.  If need be do it in batches.  Don't overcrowd the frying pan and leave the fennel alone for a couple of minutes.  Resist the urge and do not turn or stir.  We are aiming to sear for  a flavourful golden brown.  After a couple of minutes turn them over, and again leave well alone for 2 minutes.  Remove from the frying pan, set aside and do the same with the rest of the fennel, using up the rest of the oil and butter.

In to the frying pan add the sugar, fennel seeds and a good pinch of salt and some freshly ground black pepper.  Fry for just 30 seconds ans then return all the fennel slices back to the frying pan.  Allow then to caramelize for 1-2 minutes so that they are just coated in the sugar and fennel seed mixture.  Place the fennel on a plate and allow them to cool.

In a bowl toss the fennel with the garlic and dill.  Taste and if need be add more salt and pepper, each to their own with seasoning.  Arrange the fennel on a platter and crumble over the goat's cheese.  To finish drizzle with a little olive oil, the lemon zest and a garnish of the fennel fronds.  Serve at room temperature.


The fennel becomes golden and sweet, cut with the tangy goat's cheese, fragrant dill and a fresh citrusy lift from the lemon zest.  For me though the best bits are the little crunchy, sweet nuggets that have come together as the sugar caramelized and bound together with the fennel seeds.  I think this could be another one for converting people to the love side of the fennel fence. It is certainly one of my new favourite ways with fennel.



  1. Yum! i love fennels, mine are getting fat in the garden, hope to pick the firsts this week :-).

  2. Thanks Sarah! The perils of hitting the publish button to quickly!

  3. Ohh yum. I am strictly in the pro-fennel camp! I used Plenty again today - I was a bit worried it was going to be one of those beautiful-but-not-accessible books but as you say, it's hard to tear yourself away from it.

  4. I adore fennel! This sounds like a perfect dish!

  5. What a beautiful recipe! I love fennel and really see the caramelization going so well with that natural anise-sweet that it has - a lovely pairing with goat cheese too. yum!

  6. Simply divine - I so hope that fennel is still around when I get home, so that I can try this. I am definitely a fennel lover, and I know that I would adore this.

    I have the first Ottolenghi book, which is without doubt my most favourite cookbook. I did order Plenty though just before I left for my trip and hope it will be waiting for me when I get back - then I will have two favourite cookbooks for sure :-)

    Sue xo

  7. I cooked fennel for the first time just last week. I was really unsure about it and worried that both my husband and I wouldn't like it. But when roasted, it was really mild in flavour and not too pungent at all. It paired really nicely with the duck, cherry and parsnip dish I made. I might have to give it a try with some milder flavours to see if I still like it when it's the star of the show. I'm not a goat cheese lover, but I've since learned that I like it as an ingredient rather than a food on it's own. Much like how I like fish sauce but I wouldn't eat it on it's own.

  8. Thank you fennel lovers! Really do appreciate all the lovely comments.

    Laura...v happy we are all equally Ottolenghi obsessed!

    Bunny Eats Design...now that duck, cherry & parsnip dish sounds intriguing & delicious!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...