Fried Fennel Slices

Preparation info

  • Makes approximately


    • Difficulty


Appears in

The Savory Way

The Savory Way

By Deborah Madison

Published 1990

  • About

Here’s a good knife-and-fork food for those who seldom or never eat meat. Lightly coated in bread crumbs and fried, the fennel is pleasantly chewy and retains its characteristic fresh, clean flavor.


  • 2 large or 3 small fennel bulbs
  • 2 slices firm white bread
  • 1 egg
  • 1 heaping tablespoon chopped fennel greens
  • salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • clarified butter or light olive oil


Wash the fennel; then pry off the thick outer leaves if they are tough and scarred. (Save these for soup or peel them with a vegetable peeler, slice them thinly, and use them in a salad.) Slice each fennel bulb lengthwise into pieces about inch thick, leaving the core attached. You will end up with a cross section of the bulb.

Remove the crusts from the bread and make bread crumbs from the pieces in a food processor or by hand. Beat the egg, add the fennel greens, and season with salt and pepper. Dip each piece of fennel into the egg and then into the bread crumbs. Use one hand to dip into the egg and the other hand to dip into the bread crumbs. This keeps the egg from becoming filled with soggy crumbs—a good practice whenever you are dipping and coating. Make sure each piece is generously coated.

Heat a generous amount of clarified butter or oil in a cast-iron skillet or other heavy pan. When it is hot enough to sizzle a crumb of bread, add the fennel and lower the heat to medium-low. Cook slowly so that the fennel is done just as the crumbs have turned a beautiful golden brown. Fry on both sides and serve hot, as a first course, with a wedge of lemon or a spoonful of mayonnaise flavored with a few drops of Pernod. This is also delicious with garlic mayonnaise.