Milk-Baked Fennel

October 18, 2013

My husband is a fennel lover. I quite enjoy fennel too, both the bulb and festive fronds in a salad or decorating my salmon. And let’s not forget fennel seeds, rubbed into a pork shoulder and slow roasted like we do at Christmas… But I wouldn’t have called myself ‘fennel mad’, and if not for his ardent adoration I doubt I would have insisted on including fennel in our diet on the regular. That was until I started baking it. And now? Well it’s an odd day indeed if you don’t see fennel on my kitchen bench.

How specifically did I turn fennel mad? I baked it in milk. Yes, milk. I had come across this technique whilst searching for Italian classics one gloomy Spring Sunday, as I was feeling a tad homesick for Rome (astute readers may notice that I don’t technically live in Rome, nor have I ever. But Rome sure feels like home and one day I’ll live there, one day…) My computer screen ablaze with recipes for buttery saltimbocca, vibrant amatriciana, carb-comforting potato and rosemary pizza, it was the fennel with milk that stuck in my mind. That evening I assembled this simple dish and oh man…It. Was. GOOD.

No, really, we are completely mad for this milk-baked fennel in our house. This dish is creamy and rich, reminiscent of that childhood favourite potato bake in flavour, though lacking in heavy cream or starch, which moves it away from feeling stodgy. It’s fennel sorcery, my friends.

This dish marries beautifully with baked fish, but we’ve also paired generous scoops alongside Jonathon’s sausages and even scrambled eggs. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.


Milk-Baked Fennel

Serves 4 as a side dish or 2 as a more substantial meal component

1 large Fennel Bulb
1/2 tablespoon Olive Oil
1 cup Milk
1 clove Garlic, crushed
A pinch freshly grated Nutmeg
Sea Salt and freshly cracked Black Pepper
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan Cheese


1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
2. Thinly slice your fennel horizontally, ~1/4 inch thick. Heat the olive oil in a large fry pan over medium heat. Cook your fennel for ~2 minutes each side until golden, then remove and place in a mixing bowl.
3. Add the milk, crushed garlic, nutmeg and a sprinkle of sea salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste. Stir to combine the ingredients, then pour into a baking dish ~17 x 21cm. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes.
4. After 20 minutes, sprinkle the cheese on top, cover again and bake for a further 15 minutes, before removing the foil and baking for a final 10 minutes to allow the top to brown (total baking time ~45 minutes).

Heidi xo

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  • Hannah October 18, 2013 at 9:59 am

    Fascinating! I grew up eating wedges of roasted fennel (my mum is the queen of roasted vegetables), so have lon gloved the meltingly-soft-slightly-anise-sweetness of slow-baked fennel. I may have to add this to the not-lactose-intolerant-pretence list with cheesecake xo

    • Heidi October 22, 2013 at 10:07 am

      Lovely! I’d love to meet your roasting vegetable queen mum x

  • leaf (the indolent cook) October 18, 2013 at 12:12 pm

    Intriguing! A classic that has till now escaped my attention. Seems like a fun and easy way to cook fennel, too.

    • Heidi October 22, 2013 at 10:07 am

      super easy & super fun, for sure x

  • InTolerant Chef October 18, 2013 at 2:36 pm

    Oh this looks awesome Heidi! My family isn’t terribly fond of fennel, but I will definitely try this out with our Sunday roast and try to convert them- yummo!

    • Heidi October 22, 2013 at 10:08 am

      Let me know how it goes, lovely!! Would love to hear x

  • Todd @ HonestlyYUM October 19, 2013 at 4:51 am

    I love fennel, but have pretty much only had it in salads. Thanks so much for sharing this technique, Heidi!

    • Heidi October 22, 2013 at 10:09 am

      You’re so welcome, Todd! x

  • la gourmande October 19, 2013 at 6:54 pm

    merci pour ce joli partage !!!
    a bientôt

    • Heidi October 22, 2013 at 10:09 am

      🙂 x

  • Leen October 21, 2013 at 10:16 am

    Perfect! I’m new to cooking with fennel & have been looking for a way to use it, can’t wait to try this.
    P.s – looking forward to the rest of your Tasmania blog as I’m heading there soon 🙂

    • Heidi October 22, 2013 at 10:10 am

      Yay for you! I will be posting more soon 🙂 x

  • Iron Chef Shellie October 21, 2013 at 9:32 pm

    Ok, so remember how you told me Ben says you have weird dreams if you eat fennel? I agree. I had fennel twice over the weekend and MAN i was dreaming some weird things!! who needs drugs?! haha.. I’ve never taken drugs just to clear that up! xx

    • Heidi October 22, 2013 at 10:10 am

      hahaha love it. It’s so WEIRD isn’t it?! x