Tomato Fennel Gratin

Slices of fennel and sweet tomatoes are baked in a creamy sauce with hints of Parmesan cheese in this vegetable gratin.

tomato fennel gratin, sylvie shirazi photography, food photography, los angeles food photographer

A warm gratin is a bubbling dish of soothing comfort, with the magic all happening as it bakes and bubbles in the heat of the oven.  And really, gratins are all about the ingredients, and the creaminess that binds them together; this one is simple as can be. fennel tomato gratin, sylvie shirazi photogrpahy, food photography, los angeles food photographer

Thinly sliced ripe tomatoes are joined by the subtle anise notes of fennel, salty black olives, a dollop of crème fraiche and a good grating of Parmesan to top it all off.

A subtly sweet and silky tangle of fennel and cream provides a nice bed for the tomatoes to rest on.  When baked together, the tiles of tomatoes soften and slump together just slightly under the heat, their flavor concentrating and intensifying.

roma tomatoes, sylvie shirazi photography, food photographer, los angeles food photographer

After a brief steam (making it softer and less assertive than in raw form) the fennel cooks down even further into creamy pockets of sauce underneath the tomatoes.  Crusty and golden brown, the Parmesan topping adds another layer of depth to the dish.

sliced fennel, sylvie shirazi photography, los angeles food photographer, food photography

The seductively rich taste of the fennel baked in the creamy sauce is offset by the sweet acidity of the tomatoes and the brininess from the scattered bits of olives.

It’s surprisingly creamy yet light and well-suited for making the slow transition from summer to fall. It’s the kind of dish that will be making a frequent appearance at my dinner table on those sunny days followed by cool evenings as we head into the next season.

fennel tomato gratin, sylvie shirazi photography, los angeles food photographer, food photography

Serves Serves 4

Tomato Fennel Gratin Recipe

The rich taste of fennel baked in a cream sauce is topped with tomatoes, scattered bits of olives and a good grating of Parmesan.

20 minPrep Time

35 minCook Time

Save Recipe


  • 4 or 5 small Roma tomatoes
  • 1 large or 2 small fennel bulbs, stalks removed
  • 2oz/ 56g crème fraiche
  • 2 TB/30g of black olive tapenade (store bought or homemade)
  • 1?2 cup/56g finely grated Parmesan (divided)
  • A handful of fresh thyme leaves
  • fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


  1. Slice tomatoes into 1/4-inch thick slices. If your tomatoes are very juicy, layer the tomato slices into a colander, sprinkle with a few pinches of salt and drain excess moisture from the tomatoes for 20 minutes.
  2. Trim fennel bulbs and halve lengthwise through the core, and thinly slice each half.
  3. Fit a pan with a steamer basket and several inches of water. Steam fennel for 8 to 10 minutes or until fennel is tender.
  4. In a bowl, toss together steamed fennel, crème fraiche, olive tapenade, half of the thyme leaves and Parmesan; season with salt and pepper.
  5. Butter the bottom of a small baking or gratin dish.
  6. Place fennel mixture at the bottom of the baking dish. Arrange the tomato slices over the fennel in overlapping rows. Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan and thyme leaves.
  7. Bake at 35o for 20 to 25 minutes, uncovered until the cheese starts to brown and the gratin is bubbling. Let rest for about 5 minutes before serving.


Gluten Free, Grain Free, Vegetarian, Primal


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  1. says

    Gorgeous photos and delicious meal cooked from all of my favourite ingredients. I think I must try it sometime. Love the old forks and spoons. Great!

  2. Eha says

    This looks so beautiful one feels like foraging in the fridge for all the items immediately! Most love your description of the making tho’ – better than a mystery novel any day 🙂 !

  3. says

    Oh Sylvie… I am utterly and totally smitten with this dish! The idea of these flavours, and your descriptions literally have my mouth watering. How am I going to cope with a boring sandwich lunch now?!? Gorgeous photos, as always…

  4. Peppers says

    Help, I am in the middle of making this recipe, ready to put in the oven, but I cannot find where you state what temperature the oven needs to be? Am I just blind? 350????

  5. says

    Hi Sylvie,
    I’ve been meaning to ask you for a while now if you plan on writing a book about food. I’ve always loved the way you describe your dishes, the more I read the more I see myself in your kitchen taking a bite.
    I hope you do, i’d probably have a hard time leaving it before I finish reading

  6. says

    I’m actually not very fond of fennel, but your recipe sounds like just the right blending of flavors to counter the heavy licorice taste of that vegetable! I look forward to trying this soon.

  7. Marisa says

    Made this tonight. AMAZING. We just gobbled up the whole thing. Next time, I’ll double the recipe. Thank you so much!

  8. says

    I googled around looking for recipes for fennel as I had some delivered in my farm delivery and had never made it before. Usually I give away my fennel because I’m worried about that licorice scent it gives off (not a big fan of licorice).

    I’m not very savvy in the kitchen and this looked like something I could make, never mind it looked incredibly delicious AND was a primal-approved recipe, so I thought, well, let’s give it a try…

    I made it this morning and WOW! SO GOOD! It’s all I can do not to go in and eat the rest of it AND lick the dish I baked it in!

    Thank you so much!