I used to be one of those psycho people who liked to be really hungry for Thanksgiving dinner. So instead of having breakfast, I’d just power through the day so I could REALLY enjoy dinner. But then that lead to be, like, being mean to people so now I make sure to eat breakfast AND I always have an appetizer prepped.
This is perfect for that because it can be made the day before and then heated up when hanger-vibes strike.
This can also be thrown in with the turkey if you don’t have multiple ovens. It’s the sort of things that’s super forgiving since really you’re just melting the cheese and warming it throughout.
The fennel is seared on both sides until very caramelized.
Fennel like this almost has a sweet flavor to it—it’s DELICIOUS.
The leeks and garlic add some nice bite to an otherwise sort of cheese-filled dish. There’s balance. The lemon zest and crushed red pepper add a bit of niceness too.
I like this with brie and parmesan and a bit of mozzarella on top for browning. It’s a perfect mix of creamy and sweet and very savory. I like to eat it with bread but crackers will do the trick too.
Warm Caramelized Fennel and Leek Cheese Dip
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 fennel bulbs, 1 1/2 lbs, *thinly sliced with a few fronds reserved as garnish
- 1 leek, thinly sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 7 ounces brie cheese, room temperature and removed from the rind
- 2 ounces about 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan-Reggiano
- Zest from 1 small lemon
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 1 ounce about 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella
- Bread or crackers, for serving
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium skillet, set over medium heat, add the oil. When hot, add the fennel and sear on both sides, for about 1 to 2 minutes per side. You may need to do this in batches depending on how big your skillet is. See note below for slicing the root end off each slice. After you’re done with the fennel, transfer it to a food processor.
- In the same medium skillet, add a teaspoon of olive oil, if needed. Add the leeks and cook, mixing often, until softened, about 2 to 3 minutes. Mix in the minced garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Transfer the leek mixture to the food processor, along with the brie cheese, Parmesan-Reggiano, lemon zest, salt and crushed red pepper. Pulse until mostly smooth, about 30 seconds. Give it a taste and adjust the salt to your liking.
- Transfer to a small oven-safe baking dish or bowl. Top with the shredded mozzarella and place in the oven until the cheese is melted and browned on top, about 15 to 20 minutes. Serve with slices of bread or crackers.