This tender Roasted Fennel with Parmesan and Lemon is one of my personal favorite side dishes in the fall and winter! It’s a little sweet, a little nutty, and surprisingly doesn’t taste like licorice! (I call that a win!).
How To Cut Fennel
Begin by trimming the fennel fronds (the top green part) away from the bulb (the white part), but do not discard. The fennel fronts, which look like fresh dill, can be used just like other fresh herbs and have a delicate texture! Whenever I cook with fennel, I like to garnish the finished fish with the fennel fronds.
Next, trim the very bottom of the fennel bulb off. You can now sit the bulb on the flat side so it’s standing up. Slice the fennel in half lengthwise, then peel the outer layer off and discard.
For this recipe, I like to cut each halved fennel into ½” thick slices, keeping a portion of the core intact on each piece. You should get about 8 wedges from each fennel bulb.
What Does Fennel Taste Like?
Though fennel looks similar to an onion, it actually tastes like licorice. I find the anise flavor to be a little intense, so when I eat it raw, I thinly slice it first and then soak in cold water for 10 minutes before serving.
When roasted however, fennel becomes sweet and slightly nutty, similar to when onions are cooked.
You’ll Need 6 Ingredients
- 3 fennel bulbs – raw fennel has an intense licorice flavor, but roasted fennel is much more like an onion; it becomes mellow and sweet when roasted
- Extra virgin olive oil – to flavor the fennel while roasting
- Kosher salt – to season the fennel
- Freshly ground black pepper – to season the fennel
- Fresh lemon juice – a bright burst of acidity to light the overall flavor of the dish
- Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino Romano – adds nuttiness and saltiness to the fennel
How To Roast Fennel
Roasting fennel could not be easier! Place slices of fennel (with core in tact) that are about ½” thick on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle generously with olive oil, kosher salt, and black pepper. Roast at 400F until crispy on the outside and creamy in the center.
When the fennel comes out, I like to squeeze a little fresh lemon juice on top, then sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan or pecorino cheese. The salty sweet combo is addictive!
Roasted fennel cooks in 40 minutes. Cook at 400F for 25 minutes, then flip pieces of fennel over and cook 15 minutes more.
Things That Go Well With Roasted Fennel
Nothing in the world beats a perfect roast chicken, so that would be a great entrée here. We serve this with cracklin’ chicken — the crispiest skin ever! — but grilled salmon would be lovely too!
As part of my Date Night In series, I’m offering up a few wine suggestions to serve alongside. Again, while raw fennel has a distinct licorice or anise-like flavor, roasted fennel by contrast, becomes less in-your-face, and much sweeter. I often go for a cold glass of white!
White wine: My recommendation is something light, crisp, and effervescent, such as Albariño or Sancerre. A full-bodied, Pinot Blanc with a creamy mouthfeel and notes of citrus isn’t out of the question either! (Look for something from Alsace, a favorite region of mine and my husband!)
Red wine: Two suggestions, both comparable to each other. First, a Nebbiolo. My hubby and I adore this full-bodied red, known for its rich tannins and high acidity. I think we love this wine varietal so much because it smells light and fruity, but it drinks much bigger. I love robust reds! Similarly, Sangiovese (specifically Chianti Classico) would pair beautifully with this fennel recipe. It’s an earthy and rustic wine with notes of cherries and figs. When it comes to a reliable drinking wine, this is another favorite of ours!
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For other quick weeknight favorites, check out the following recipes:
- Easy chicken milanese with fennel salad
- Salmon escabeche with olives and chiles
- Easy grilled lobster tails and clams
- The crispiest grilled chicken wings recipe!
- Roasted beets with horseradish cream
Tender, Sweet Roasted Fennel with Parmesan
- 3 medium fennel bulbs
- 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp Kosher salt
- ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- ½ lemon
- 3 Tbsp Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino Romano, grated
- Prep the fennel. Preheat an oven to 400F. To trim fennel, slice off the very bottom of each bulb (leaving the core intact) as well as the fennel fronds (the green part). Reserve fennel fronds for garnish — the tender green leaves can be pulled off and used similarly to fresh herbs. Stand the fennel up on a cutting board so it's sitting flat, then cut in half lengthwise. Lay cut side down, then slice each half into ½" thick pieces. You should get 6-8 slices from each full fennel bulb, depending on size.
- Roast the fennel. Place fennel slices on a rimmed baking sheet, then drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Toss to evenly coat, then roast for 25 minutes. Carefully flip each piece of fennel, then cook another 15 minutes, or until crispy on the outside and tender in the center.
- Finish, then serve! Transfer fennel to a serving bowl, then squeeze half a lemon on top. Sprinkle generously with grated parmesan, then garnish with a few reserved fennel fronds. Serve immediately
- Parmesan: if you don’t have parmesan, pecorino romano would be great