Pic of Fennel and cannellini bean gratin with rocket and lemon

Fennel and cannellini bean gratin with rocket and lemon

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Vegetarian mains

Fennel and cannellini bean gratin with rocket and lemon

Main Serves 2 50 min
There is something about a gratin that makes things taste greater than the sum of their parts. It is probably the universal fact that most things taste better with crisp savoury breadcrumbs on top.

Cook's notes

If you are a real garlic fan try splitting one of the garlic cloves and running the cut side over the inside of the gratin dish before using as instructed. It seems to amplify the taste in the final dish.


  • '1 lemon
  • 1 onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 fennel bulbs
  • 400g tin cannellini beans
  • olive oil
  • oil for frying e.g. light olive
  • 2 tbsp passata
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp ground fennel
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 50g breadcrumbs
  • 25g Italian style cheese
  • 50g rocket
  • salt and pepper
Image of Fennel and cannellini bean gratin with rocket and lemon


Prep time: 20 min
Cooking time: 30 min
  • Step 1

    Zest and juice the lemon. Peel and slice the onion. Trim the fennel bulbs, removing any tough outer layers. Slice them in half, lengthways. Remove the tough root with a v-shaped cut and thinly slice.
  • Step 2

    Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a pan and gently fry the onion and fennel for 10 minutes until starting to soften. Allow them to take on some colour but add a dash of water if they look like they might burn. While the fennel cooks, peel and finely chop 2 garlic cloves.
  • Step 3

    Drain the beans and rinse well. In a bowl dress them with 1 tablespoon each of lemon juice and good olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and leave to sit. Add the garlic to the pan of fennel.
  • Step 4

    Cook gently for a further 2 minutes. Add the passata, bay leaf, ground fennel and oregano. Tip in 200ml of water. Bring to a simmer and season with salt and pepper.
  • Step 5

    Cook for 5 minutes on a low heat until the sauce thickens slightly. Taste and adjust the seasoning if you feel it needs it. Preheat the oven to 200°C/Gas Mark 4. Cut the tomatoes into thick slices. Arrange them evenly in the gratin dish. Spread the beans over the tomatoes.
  • Step 6

    Tip the fennel and tomato sauce on top. Mix the breadcrumbs with the cheese, 1 teaspoon of olive oil and the lemon zest. Cover the gratin with an even layer of the breadcrumb mix. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, or until the breadcrumbs have turned golden and the sauce is bubbling.
  • Step 7

    While the gratin cooks, wash, drain and dry the rocket. When the gratin is ready, dress the rocket simply with a little lemon juice, oil and salt and pepper. Serve generous scoops of gratin with the rocket as a side.

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