Fennel-Pastrami Gratin


Have you heard of Beet ‘n Squash YOU! ? – It’s a monthly food-fight wherein the stupendous virtues of vegetables are extolled. It’s fun and it’s hosted by Mel of Bouchon for 2 and Leela of She simmers. And guess what my friends… December is battle FENNEL! Are you excited yet?

I couldn’t resist participating because well… i have a crush on this uncanny vegetable. There’s something unequivocally friendly about fennel but beware – behind its friendliness hides a touch of feistiness – which makes it even more sexy to me. I love raw fennel, thinly shaved and lightly dressed but for this contest i thought i would bring it into submission with cream. It is well-known that cream can soften the hardest, baddest of root vegetables. Why not a fennel?


I wanted a dish with a little more complexity so i started by asking myself this simple question: what do fennels like?

It happens that fennels have a special affinity for pastrami. You can trust me on that, i’ve done some research on the subject. Give a fennel some pastrami and they let go of their guards. So imagine what a fennel, fronds and toasted seeds included, would become if cooked in cream with layers of pastrami and yukon gold potatoes..

Yup. It’s fennelicious..

  • Fennel-Pastrami Gratin

    • Serves 4 to 6
    • For the fennel-pastrami gratin:
    • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
    • 4 bulbs fennel (including fronds)
    • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
    • 3 tablespoons olive oil
    • 4 medium yukon gold potatoes, peeled
    • 8 ounces pastrami, sliced
    • 1 1/2 cup heavy cream
    • salt & black pepper
    • 1/2 cup parmesan
    • butter
    • fennel-pastrami-gratin-5 fennel-pastrami-gratin-6 fennel-pastrami-gratin-8 fennel-pastrami-gratin-7
      For the fennel-pastrami gratin:
    • Preheat oven to 425’F.
    • Toast the fennel seeds in a small pan until fragrant. Using a mortar and pestle, pound the seeds coarsely.
    • Trim the fennel, cut the stalks off and chop and reserve the thinner branches. Peel the outer layers of the bulbs that are bruised. Cut the bulbs in half lengthwise and place the halves, cut side down, on a cutting board. Slice the fennel thinly.
    • Toss the fennel in a large bowl with the fronds, the seeds, the olive oil, thyme. Season with 1 1/2 teaspoon salt and black pepper.
    • Slice the potatoes on a mandoline. Toss in a bowl with cream and salt to taste.
    • Add the potato mixture to the fennel and toss well. Check and adjust seasoning.
    • In a buttered gratin dish, arrange one layer of potato, overlapping them slightly. Arrange a layer of fennel on top and ladle some of the cream mixture. Arrange a layer of pastrami and another layer of potatoes.. fennel.. etc. Sprinkle some parmesan over the top of the gratin and finish with little dots of butter.
    • Bake for 45 min and up to 1 hour, until the gratin is golden and slightly crispy on top.
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  • http://www.bouchonfor2.com Mel

    This is the perfect potluck dish and comfort sidedish :) Makes me feel warm and gooey inside.
    Thanks for sharing and participating!

  • http://www.thecotswoldfoodyear.com James

    This looks like some real rude food!

    Ooh a blog fest. 2 days to go? Haven’t got long…..

  • http://www.redcook.net Kian

    Yum! That looks absolutely delicious.But fennel and pastrami? That’s obscene.

  • http://www.bitemekitchen.blogspot.com Rose at The Bite Me Kitchen

    Great job! That looks seriously delicious … pastrami… mmmm! My post will go up tomorrow!

  • http://vanillakitchen.blogspot.com dawn

    oh my god, seriously good combo. that slice in the corner? yeah, all mine–no touch!

  • http://staceysnacksonline.com Stacey Snacks

    Interesting combination!
    Where did you buy the pastrami? hmmmm, so many choices in NYC for good deli.
    I used fennel tonight in a salad w/ lentilles du Puy. It gave the salad such a nice flavor.
    This gratin is beautiful!
    Happy Holidays S.

  • http://www.shesimmers.com Leela@SheSimmers

    Wow. (Gaping in awe …) I just want to bury my gluttonous face in that pan and eat the whole thing hands-free, pie contest-style. Great pairing. Fennel seeds are part of pastrami spice blend so, when you say pastrami and fennel go together, who am I to argue?

    You’re definitely the one to beat. I’m sure other participants are shaking in their aprons right now.

    So, friendly + feisty = sexy, huh? :)

  • http://fivestarfoodie.blogspot.com Natasha – 5 Star Foodie

    Excellent! I was actually going to do a fennel au gratin before I went into a different direction with it but looks like I would have been missing the essential ingredient – pastrami! I love the idea of this combination! I’ll be posting my fennel recipe later this week.

  • http://wokstar.us Eleanor Hoh (WokStar)

    Fennelicious is a winner! You can make anything delicious.

  • http://www.thefoodieforkful.com Elise – The Foodie Forkful

    Oh my God. That sounds absolutely ridiculous. I must rush out and purchase all the necessary ingredients!

  • http://onceuponaplate.blogspot.com Mari @ Once Upon a Plate

    I think Beet ‘n Squash you is such a fun idea too.

    Thanks to Mel’s invite I entered the other day ~ but if were up to me… YOU would WIN!

    Running my virtual tongue over this, I just KNOW it is delicious. I want to make it soon. Your blog always provides such fabulous inspiration.

    Thanks for sharing.

  • http://thelittleteochew.blogspot.com The Little Teochew

    I was hyperventilating the moment I entered your blog. It’s just filled to the brim with beautiful, gorgeous eats. I’m in awe of your photography too. Cheers!


  • http://www.my-easy-cooking.com nina

    The color is stunning, I cannot wait to taste this….love fennel, love pastrami and I LOVE cream!

  • http://www.mattikaarts.com/blog matt

    This looks spectacular. LOVE, LOVE LOVE fennel, one of my favorites. I agree that raw with a dressing is just wonderful. What I love is just how the flavor totally changes between raw and cooked.

    I can say I have never had fennel with pastrami, I guess that is maybe more an east coast thing. sounds awesome though!

  • http://ouichef.typepad.com Oui, Chef

    This sounds and looks fabulous! Time for me to go in search of some really good pastrami.

  • http://kitchen-em.blogspot.com Kitchen M

    Yum! I love fennel! I too like shaved kind in salad.
    Though I’ve never had fennel and pastrami together, I can just imagine it and it’s suddenly making me hungry! Were you introduced to this idea somewhere before?

  • http://www.artsy-foodie.com Alexa

    This is such a wonderful combination of flavors. The pics are mouth watering.

  • http://curiouseats.blogspot.com Lissa

    This recipe looks amazing!!! I never cook with fennel but I think I need to start!!!

  • http://www.passionateaboutbaking.com/ deeba

    Love your crush on fennel…love the gratin!! Wonderful!!

  • http://www.pigpigscorner.com pigpigscorner

    This looks great! I’ve never actually cooked with fennels, this might be a good start!

  • http://www.weareneverfull.com we are never full

    you are crazy – a crazy genius! pastrami… i love that you did “alot” of research on this pairing. i believe you – i believe you! looks grrrreat. i love fennel in all its forms.

  • http://myboyfriendcooksforme.blogspot.com my boyfriend cooks for me

    This is such an interesting dish. My boyfriend and I only “discovered” fennel this year, and mainly used it in applications where it was combined with apple (generally as some kind of slaw over pork chops). We’ll have to expand our fennel-horizons…

  • http://colloquialcooking.com Colloquial Cook

    This is an announcement from the Fennel-Martyr Brigade : we won’t mind being toasted, trimmed, mandolined and tossed, if you layer our mangled fronds and bulb parts with cream and pastrami. Cheers.

  • http://www.clumbsycookie.blogspot.com clumbsycookie

    Ahahahahah! You crack me up! One question: do you use your fennel with glasses? Cause I think the glasses add a nice crunch, don’t you think?

  • http://dodol-mochi.blogspot.com/ Pei-Lin

    I actually found out about your site via Helene of Tartelette ages ago … Haha … Should’ve left a few lines here earlier … Too bad, my lazy bones took over … Yikes!

    Love your blog and photography, and sense of humor! Keep it up!

    Cheers from Malaysia,

  • http://hecooksshecookswecook.com/ Jeff

    I am here to lend my support to fennel. Love its feisty nature and bite. Heck half the time I could just shave it off and call it a day.

    Hmmm…I will take your word on pastrami and fennel being close neighbors. However, since pastrami is a good friend of mine I could definitely see it.

  • http://www.honeyfromrock.blogspot.com Claudia

    This was fantastic! Made it last night, though I only had one fennel (was cutting the recipe in half, but still), and used Serrano thin sliced ham instead of the pastrami. So, thanks for another great dish.

  • http://thecreativepot.blogspot.com Marisa

    Mmmmmmm – your gratin looks amazing! The pastrami is a great addition.

  • http://constableslarder.com Giff

    this is what I miss when I bury my head in startup land rather than food. Jeez is this right up my alley. Must try! Hope you are well!

  • http://www.dirtykitchensecrets.com Bethany (Dirty Kitchen Secrets)

    Great post- I’ll have to make this soon as my friend is in town and she is obsessed with fennels. Me too! Hide Claire HIde!

  • http://quisimangiabene.blogspot.com/ Peter

    As soon as I make the next hunk of pastrami I’m going to whip this up. Very noble of you to make such sacrifices for science.

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