This roasted fennel with rye crumble is an easy side dish made by baking fennel wedges in lemon butter until tender and caramelized, and then topping the whole shebang with a crispy rye, caraway, and Parmesan mixture.
Subtly caramelized wedges of perfectly roasted fennel make an elegant presentation, especially when capped with something a little indulgent and surprising: a hearty rye bread crumble starring a generous amount of earthy caraway seeds and nutty Parmesan.—America’s Test Kitchen
Roasted Fennel with Rye Crumble FAQs
Usually, a recipe will tell you to core a fennel bulb. The core’s tough and fibrous. But here, ATK says not to core the bulb before cutting it into wedges because the core helps to hold the layers of fennel together during cooking. Just cut around it when eating.
Covering the dish with aluminum foil for the first half-hour of roasting ensures that the edges don’t dry out. Once the fennel wedges are nearly tender, uncover the dish and sprinkle the topping evenly over the top. Then bake until the crumble is crisped and deep golden brown and the fennel is perfectly tender.
Roasted Fennel with Rye Crumble
- 6 tablespoons (3 oz) unsalted butter melted, divided
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 1/4 teaspoons table salt divided
- 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh thyme or 1/4 teaspoon dried
- 1/4 teaspoon plus 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper divided
- 2 large fennel bulbs stalks discarded, bulbs halved and cut into 1-inch (25-mm) wedges
- 3 ounces (3 cups) rye bread cut into 1-inch (25-mm) pieces
- 1 ounce (1/2 cup) Parmesan cheese grated
- 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
- Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 425°F (220°C).
- In a large bowl, whisk 3 tablespoons melted butter, lemon juice, 1 teaspoon salt, thyme, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper together. Add fennel and toss to coat.
- Arrange fennel cut side down in a single layer in a 13- by 9-inch (33- by 23-cm) baking dish. Cover dish with aluminum foil and bake until fennel is nearly tender, 25 to 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a food processor, pulse bread, Parmesan, caraway seeds, remaining 3 tablespoons melted butter, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and remaining 1/8 teaspoon pepper to coarse crumbs, about 20 pulses.
- Remove foil from dish and sprinkle fennel with breadcrumb mixture. Continue to bake, uncovered, until fennel is tender and topping is browned and crisp, 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
I adore fennel. Doesn’t matter if it is raw in a salad or on a crudité platter, sautéed into a soup or pasta dish, or roasted like this preparation in a stand-alone side, its tasty anise flavoring adds a fragrance and special component to whatever dish it finds itself in. Not only was the fennel perfectly tender in this recipe for roasted fennel with rye crumble, but the crumble itself was decadent and quite memorable.
The hearty taste of the rye bread when combined with butter, caraway seeds and salty Parmesan cheese was just so yummy! I think it is a great topping idea for a number of roasted veggies–asparagus, tomatoes, broccoli and cauliflower come to mind as possible combinations. We loved this side dish and in short, holiday favorites like dressings and casseroles best watch out; this side may just become a new family favorite.
I was drawn to this roasted fennel with rye crumble recipe because I was late to the fennel revolution and only recently decided I enjoyed it. The fennel baked in cream recipe was a revelation of an almost spiritual level, so I jumped at the chance to try another variation of baked fennel. And it didn’t disappoint. The wildly unique flavor combination of rye, caraway and fennel plus the duality of the textures results in pure magic. I didn’t pair this with anything as I ate it right from the baking dish and then saved the rest for later. I’d love some suggestions for a good protein to pair it with, as the flavors are quite bold.
Originally published February 17, 2022