Recipe: Rich and Creamy Fennel & Potato Gratin

Have you ever had a veg box delivered, looked at its contents and thought what on earth am I going to make with that? Last week I looked in my veg box and discovered a large and lovely fennel. What on earth was I going to make with that? After a big think I decided to make an experimental Fennel & Potato Gratin. Was my experiment a success or a failure?

I’ve eaten fennel many times, but never cooked with it. I do like fennel but it can be an acquired taste. It’s got a gentle aniseed flavour which reminds me of sambuca (yes I did have a misspent youth, thank you for asking). I thought it would work well in a potato gratin and it did.

Recipe: Rich and Creamy Fennel & Potato Gratin

It is really easy to put together and fairly quick to prepare. This Fennel & Potato Gratin would be a lovely side dish for almost any hearty, wintery meal. I made a pie to go with it and served it with a big pile of veg (from my veg box). It was a roaring success. We all fought fiercely over the crispy bits and we all had seconds. I will be making this again and again and again, veg box permitting of course!

In my recipe I’ve slightly pre-cooked the fennel and potatoes before they go into the oven. I’ve been caught out by undercooked gratins before and giving everything a little head start helped ensure everything was properly cooked. I’ve also not peeled my potatoes, partly because I like the skin and partly because I’m a little bit lazy.

Fennel & Potato Gratin

Serves 4 as a side dish

1 fennel
3 medium potatoes, finely sliced
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1/2 teaspoon of butter
200mls double cream
Salt & pepper
Parmesan (optional)

How to make your Fennel & Potato Gratin
Put boiling water into a pan and put it on low. Finely slice your potatoes. I don’t have a mandolin so I slice them by hand. I leave the skin on because I like the skin, but peel them if you prefer. Put your slices in the pan, you don’t want to cook them, just get them started a little. If you have a mandolin and have wafer thin slices you can skip this part.

Next prepare your fennel. Slice into pieces about an inch in length and no more than an inch wide. I put them into a microwavable dish with a drop of water and microwaved for 3 minutes, again just to get it started.

In a pan, melt your butter and add your crushed clove of garlic, stir for a moment  to take the raw garlic edge off it and remove from the heat. Pour in your double cream, season and stir. You are now ready to assemble your Fennel & Potato Gratin.

Pre-heat your oven to 220°. In an ovenproof dish, layer potatoes, then fennel, then potatoes and fennel and last potatoes. You can season between layers if you like. Once you have filled your dish and there is a layer of potatoes on the top, gently press down to help the layers settle.

Put your ovenproof dish on a baking sheet (this will catch the creamy dribbles in the oven) and carefully pour over the garlic cream mixture. Do this in dribs and drabs until the dish is full. If you’ve got some, grate some Parmesan over the top and put in the oven. Bake for 20 minutes or until bubbling, golden and looking gorgeous.

This was such a hit with my family with everyone diving in for seconds. It’s a real winter warmer dish and one I’ll be making regularly.

Looking for a perfect match? This would be great with my delicious slow cooked beef stew with red wine.

Recipe: Rich and Creamy Fennel & Potato Gratin

Five Delicious Vegetarian Comfort Food Dishes

I turned vegetarian when I was 13 and there’s not a lot I miss, but on a cold winter night I do sometimes hanker after the slow cooked, deep flavoured chilli my Nan used to make. Thankfully after lots of practice I’ve finally nailed the recipe and managed to make it vegetarian too.

Most of the warming comfort food dishes from my childhood were meat based – family roast dinners, my Nan’s amazing beef chilli, corned beef hash, shepherd’s pie and bubbling stews cooked so long the meat almost melted in your mouth.

There’s something about cooking up some comfort food which makes you feel like you’re showing your family some extra love. I enjoy throwing a few things in the slow cooker and knowing that by tea time there will be a delicious meal ready for my family.

Vegetarian comfort food can feel a bit hard to come by, so I’ve created and shared some of our favourite family recipes on my blog, here are five of my favourite vegetarian comfort food recipes – 

Vegetarian Galletes

vegetarian comfort food

These are a recent addition to my comfort food repertoire. They’re really easy to make, utterly delicious and once you get the hang of it you can fill them however you want. I made a Goats Cheese, Caramelised Onion and Quince Galette and a Feta, Red Pesto & Tomato Galette. Both were absolutely bang on and real crowd pleasers.

Cauliflower Cheese Soup

vegetarian comfort food

Now autumn is here my soup making pot is starting to see some serious action. Cauliflowers are cheap and plentiful in the shops, so I recreated my favourite soup, but with a cheesy twist. Try my very delicious Norwegian inspired Cauliflower Cheese Soup.

Spanish Style Bravas Sausage Casserole

vegetarian comfort food

I’d had it in my head to make a big Spanish style bravas sausage casserole in my slow cooker for a while. This summer hadn’t been up to much and I was desperate to start rustling up comfort food dishes, and this was the first one of the season. I made my sausage casserole with Quorn sausages, but you could very easily make them with your favourite meaty sausages if you’d prefer. I made the sauce in the slow cooker and let it bubble away gently to itself for a few hours. The recipe is really simple and it’s now a firm family favourite.

Authentic Armenian style Imam Bayildi 

vegetarian comfort food

Imam Bayildi is basically stuffed, baked aubergines. They’re simple to make, you can prepare them ahead of time and then cook them when you need them and they are melt in the mouth gorgeous. I like to use good quality ingredients in this recipe as every single mouthful zings flavour. Fresh vegetables and herbs are essential, they’re packed full of flavour and these sunshiny aubergines are a little bit of summer on a cold autumn evening.

Easy Microwave Jam Sponge

vegetarian comfort food

No vegetarian comfort food round-up would be complete without a pudding. This incredibly easy to make and very quick to cook microwave jam sponge is just the ticket to warm your cockles on a cold winter evening. All you need are a few store cupboard ingredients, ten minutes of your time and you’ve got a good pud that’ll make your family smile. have a great blog post about the five healthy foods that can actually save you money, and if you want even more money off your online shop they also have plenty of Sainsbury’s vouchers which you can use.

vegetarian comfort food