Parmesan-crusted fennel fritters with Meyer lemon dip

Parmesan-crusted fennel fritters with Meyer lemon dip

Come winter, I start craving fresh, crunchy textures. Root vegetables, squashes and leafy greens have been on the menu for a while now and my palate yearns for something new. That’s when I’m especially grateful for fennel. Although grown all year long, the tender, voluptuous bulbs are at their sweetest and crunchiest in the winter months.

Florence fennel or finocchio is the fennel that we’re all used to seeing at the market. The female plant produces a large round bulb with a delicate anise flavor that lends itself perfectly to being eaten raw. But lately, I’ve been wanting to make something a bit different with fennel. So I decided to try fennel fritters… and I’m so glad I did!

First I blanched the fennel slices until tender but still a bit crunchy. Then I dipped them in eggs and coated them with Parmesan breadcrumbs. And finally, to highlight the fennel’s delicate anise flavor, I crushed a few fennel seeds in a mortar and added them to the crumb mixture.

Pan-fried in a little olive oil, the fennel fritters came out tender on the inside and delightfully crunchy on the outside. Served with a fragrant Meyer lemon dip, these fritters were irresistible – just what I’d hoped for!

One of the things that never ceases to amaze me is how much vegetables have to offer. They are to me what colors are to a painter: a rich palette of flavors and textures. And coaxing it all out of them is truly my passion. So here’s to fennel and all that it so willingly and generously brings forth…

Food & wine pairing: Alsace, Pinot Blanc with Parmesan-crusted fennel fritters

White wine iconA medium- to full-bodied white wine with mellow lemony notes works really well with these scrumptious morsels. Try a Pinot Blanc from Alsace or a Chenin Blanc from South Africa. A sparkling Chenin Blanc would be wonderful here too!

Fennel bulb

Parmesan-crusted fennel fritters with Meyer lemon dip

makes 16 to 20 fritters or 4 servings
active time: 40 min

For the dip

  1. 1/3 cup sour cream
  2. 1/2 teaspoon finely grated Meyer lemon zest (or regular lemon zest)
  3. 1 tablespoon Meyer lemon juice (or 1 1/2 teaspoons regular lemon juice)

For the fennel

  1. 1 large fennel bulb
  2. 1 teaspoon sea salt for the blanching water

For the breadcrumbs

  1. 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  2. 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan
  3. 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds – finely ground in a mortar
  4. 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  5. freshly ground black pepper to taste
  1. 2 extra large eggs – lightly beaten
  2. high heat vegetable oil for pan-frying
  3. fennel greens as garnish

  1. Step 1: To make the dip — Place the sour cream in a bowl. Add the lemon zest and lemon juice. Whisk until well incorporated and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  2. Step 2: To trim the fennel bulb – Cut the stalks off where they meet the bulb. Cut the bulb in quarters, right through the root end. Then cut each quarter in 4 to 5, 1/4” slices, making sure to cut right through the root end again so the slices stay attached together. (The fennel slices can be blanched right away or placed in a bowl and submerged with cold water. They can be stored this way and refrigerated for several hours. This will keep them crisp and prevent them from discoloring).
  3. Step 3: Fill a medium bowl with cold water and several ice cubes, set aside. Fill a medium heavy-bottomed pot with water and bring to a boil. Add the salt and fennel slices. Blanch for 6 minutes, until tender but still firm. Scoop them out with a slotted spoon and transfer to the ice water bath until cool. Drain on kitchen towels or paper towels and pat-dry.
  4. Step 4: Place the breadcrumbs, cheese, ground fennel seeds, salt and pepper in a medium bowl and stir until well blended. Spread on a plate and set aside. Place the beaten eggs in a small bowl. Dip each fennel slice in the egg and then turn them in the breadcrumb mixture. Place on a plate large enough to hold all the slices in a single layer.
  5. Cook’s note: The fennel fritters can be prepared to this point up to 6 hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate until ready to pan-fry them.
  6. Step 5: To make the fritters – Heat a large heavy-bottomed skillet over high heat. Add enough oil to the pan to reach 1/8” up the sides. When the oil is hot add the fennel slices to the pan so they are in a single layer, without overcrowding them. Sauté for 2 to 3 minutes until golden-brown. Flip the slices and continue to sauté for another 2 minutes until golden-brown. Remove from pan with a slotted spatula and drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with sea salt to taste. Overlap 4 to 5 fritters in the center of each plate. Place a spoonful of the dip next to them. Garnish with fennel greens and serve immediately. Alternatively, serve as an hors d’oeuvres and place the fritters on a large platter and the dip in a medium bowl. Serve the fritters piping hot, as they become soggy as they cool.

Parmesan-crusted fennel fritters with Meyer lemon dip

fennel, fritters, Meyer lemon

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  • Reply Fennel Friday December 7, 2012 at 11:24 am

    Happy Fennel Friday! We love this recipe and it is featured on our Fennel Appetizers Recipe Round-Up this week! Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply Stephanie @ Eat. Drink. Love. April 14, 2012 at 11:55 pm

    Just beautiful! Love the idea of a fennel fritter! Especially with that lemony dip!

  • Reply Renee @ Tortillas and Honey April 13, 2012 at 4:22 pm

    These look amazing! I absolutely love fennel and it’s always great to see how other people are using it.

  • Reply The Wimpy Vegetarian April 13, 2012 at 1:51 pm

    These look fabulous!! Just buzzed it!!

    • Reply Viviane April 13, 2012 at 2:19 pm

      Oh… thank you, thank you!

  • Reply Kiri W. April 13, 2012 at 1:41 pm

    Wow – I am a big fan of fennel, but I never had it this way, or even so prominently featured as the main ingredient. What a wonderful idea 🙂 I love your pictures, too!

  • Reply Donna Ford February 2, 2012 at 6:54 pm

    Viviane, Once again this looks delicious! I’m with you I love fresh crunchy textures. And just in time for the weekend. Thank you!

  • Reply Donna Ford April 25, 2011 at 9:30 am

    Hi Viviane, I love all the photo’s! I can do this, thanks for the recipe and keep on cooking!

  • Reply Feast on the Cheap January 24, 2011 at 3:32 pm

    I don’t even like fennel and this is tempting me!

  • Reply Alina April 6, 2010 at 3:35 pm

    Wow, thank you for this amazing recipe – I never know what to do with fennel, I mean just adding it to salads sounds too boring… never thought you could make fritters of it! And I love the idea of the Parmesan breadcrumbs and the lemon dip!..

  • Reply Denise Therese April 2, 2010 at 10:38 am

    Is there anything you could use in place of breadcrumbs?

  • Reply wifsie January 12, 2010 at 2:04 pm

    I could not resist: I tweeted this. I’m not a fan of fennel but would be happy to give those a try. Lovely work!


  • Reply Jamie January 12, 2010 at 1:14 pm

    Oh wow! Simply divine! I love fennel and what an amazing way to cook them! I must try both of your recipes! Brilliant!

  • Reply ciaochowlinda January 12, 2010 at 9:45 am

    Why didn’t I think of this? What a fabulous idea.

  • Reply Cookin' Canuck January 10, 2010 at 11:22 pm

    What a beautiful, original dish! I am really looking forward to try these fritters.

  • Reply Sanjana January 10, 2010 at 4:11 pm

    This is absoloutely beautiful! Congratulations on being number 1 on Foodbuzz top 9!

  • Reply Suzee January 10, 2010 at 1:27 pm

    OMG! Amazing idea! Can’t wait to try!!!

  • Reply Marianna Cosmetatos January 10, 2010 at 3:22 am

    Thank you for your comments on our Robola. The Robola grape is considered one of the finest for wine-making in Greece. It is the limestone soil at high altitude that gives this wine its terroir and tremendous minerality. I agree that the pairing is great – Robola can usually handle ‘difficult’ flavours. The fritters sound delicious – I cannot wait to try them!

  • Reply kamran siddiqi January 9, 2010 at 10:13 pm

    Viviane, this looks absolutely yummalicious! Wow! You never seem to stop amazing me! Great post! 😀

  • Reply wasabi prime January 9, 2010 at 5:55 pm

    This looks like a fabulous way to enjoy fennel. I know some people who have a hard time appreciating it, but I’m sure this dish will make a believer out of fennel’s delicious possibilities!

  • Reply Shelly Huang January 9, 2010 at 1:29 pm

    I really have a newfound love in fennel since last autumn, but never have made fritters with it before. This is such a great idea that I just have to try next time. Thanks!

  • Reply Caveman Cooking January 9, 2010 at 2:14 am

    I haven’t cooked much with fennel. But, this is definitely making me want to give it a go, Viviane!

  • Reply Brie January 8, 2010 at 8:44 pm

    such a beautiful idea and presentation! i will definitely have to make these soon!

  • Reply Viviane Bauquet Farre January 8, 2010 at 7:40 pm

    I want to thank everyone of you for your wonderful comments. Your words make me so happy and nurture me so that I continue to create more recipes, to take more photos and to dream up fun wine pairings. It’s bliss!

    And I’m so glad to see that fennel has so many fans…

  • Reply Beatrice January 8, 2010 at 7:29 pm

    I love that this recipe includes fennel seed in the breading, in addition to the fennel itself. It sounds delicious.

  • Reply Elaine January 8, 2010 at 5:41 pm

    Oh my. This looks & sounds incredible. Lovely photos and clear instructions. Thank you for this beautiful, creative recipe.

  • Reply Drick January 8, 2010 at 4:45 pm

    whoa…bet these are so good, never had anything like it…now I’m gonna go out and find fennel bulbs…

  • Reply Debi(Table Talk) January 8, 2010 at 4:19 pm

    I really like the fennel “powder” you have incorporated into the crumb mixture.
    Sure could go for some of these Fennel Fritters right now–
    Happy new year to you!

  • Reply My Man's Belly January 8, 2010 at 4:16 pm

    I can’t wait to try making these. We love fennel here, but up until now I’ve only been braising it.

  • Reply Lili (Elisabeth) Jacobs January 8, 2010 at 12:52 pm

    The photography of this whole process is absolutely STUNNING! I am going to try it because you show me the way! It’s a great aid, great motivator, the beauty of each step is overwhelming- you see what most of us miss! Congratulations!!! 🙂

  • Reply Chef E January 8, 2010 at 12:12 pm

    I am planning on introducing this plant to my son while I am visiting, and love this recipe! Lemon is a great and versatile flavoring agent in all things…

    Great post! Saw Oyster Culture tweet this…

  • Reply Chris and Amy January 8, 2010 at 11:57 am

    Fabulous! This is a must-try for us fennel-lovers!

  • Reply dokuzuncubulut January 8, 2010 at 11:45 am

    Beautiful presentation. What a pretty dish!

  • Reply Noelle (An Opera Singer in the Kitchen) January 8, 2010 at 11:43 am

    This looks fantastic. I am saving this for future use! What a wonderful step but step instructional guide. 🙂

  • Reply Sarah January 8, 2010 at 11:22 am

    I usually eat fennel sliced finely with lemon juice and olive oil, perhaps a bit of salt. I would love to try this recipe, it looks delicious.

  • Reply Kristen January 8, 2010 at 10:44 am

    A very interesting use for fennel, I am sure this is great on the palate in these winter months. I have heard so much about Greek Wines lately and am so excite to start learning more about them. Thanks for your description of Robola.

  • Reply solid wood furniture January 8, 2010 at 4:16 am

    This sound fabulous. The photos made me want to make some! I love fennel be it raw or braised!

  • Reply Dana Treat January 8, 2010 at 12:03 am

    I LOVE fennel. I love it raw, cooked, braised, in salads – what have you. I would never have thought to enjoy it this way but it looks absolutely delicious. I so enjoy reading about your newest creations!

  • Reply lisaiscooking January 7, 2010 at 6:20 pm

    This sounds like a delicious way to enjoy fennel! The additional crushed seed in the breadcrumbs was a great to boost the flavor too. Sounds lovely with the Robola.

  • Reply Melody Fury January 7, 2010 at 5:42 pm

    That’s absolutely stunning. I can eat a plateful of those!

  • Reply Sky Pape January 7, 2010 at 5:41 pm

    Uh oh… Drooling alert! YUM!

  • Reply Meg Houston Maker January 7, 2010 at 5:11 pm

    Viviane, this is a terrific post. I adore fennel; I usually roast it, but these fritters are truly inspired. I’ll have to try them soon! And the Robola sounds like the perfect companion wine. Simply lovely.

  • Reply Marc Farre January 7, 2010 at 5:08 pm

    As Viviane’s official food tester, I can attest… it’s knock-your-socks-off delicious! And what a perfect contrast to an icy, endless January.

  • Reply Christine @ Fresh Local and Best January 7, 2010 at 4:09 pm

    This looks terrific! I didn’t know that fennel is sweeter in the winter, but now that you mention it, I have been making more shaved fennel salads recently and it’s likely because I’ve been sourcing sweeter specimens. Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply Markus Stolz January 7, 2010 at 3:52 pm

    Viviane, just by reading your post I know that this food/wine combination is very special indeed. I can imagine very well that the Robola manages nicely with the fennel, which is not an easy task. I am delighted by your suggestion, the next time I visit the Gentilini Estate, I will make sure that we try this pairing. Can’t wait for the reaction! Your talent speaks for yourself – thank you so much!

  • Reply Vegetable Matter January 7, 2010 at 2:41 pm

    This looks wonderful. I planted fennel in the fall (it needs cold weather so we can’t grow it here in the summer). Well, as you know, we’ve had lots of cold weather lately but our fennel seedlings are still ridiculously tiny. Sigh. We may not be able to wait for a harvest to give this a try because it seems like such a perfect January dish. Now the dip would be great with almost everything, all year round. Another winner!

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