This keto fennel & egg al forno is baked with a creamy Parmesan cheese sauce, then topped with crushed pork rinds and two cracked eggs.
“Al forno” translates literally as “from the oven” and is a common Italian method of cooking meals. From wood fired pizzas to breads and pasta dishes, it’s a classic way of preparing food. My keto fennel & egg al forno dish is inspired specifically by an Italian meal called, “Finocchio al Forno,” which is “fennel from the oven.”
Finocchio al Forno is fennel baked in a simple cream sauce. There are plenty of variations for the cream sauce, including garlic, spices, and different cheeses, but I’m sticking with a simple mixture of heavy cream, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and butter. If you’re familiar with Alfredo sauce, this is essentially the same thing. I’ve kept it simple, though, so it can be served for breakfast, lunch or dinner. It’s a great Easter option too, as you’ll find fennel al forno on many Italian tables during the spring celebration.
Raw fennel has a licorice-like flavor which some may not be a fan. However, when it’s baked slowly, it mellows the flavor. Pair that with a creamy, cheesy sauce and you get complimentary profile that works perfectly. Fennel can typically be found year round but it’s most common from fall to early spring. I generally get my produce at my local Sprouts grocer and I’ve never had a problem finding them. You’ll want to look for a healthy bulb with lots of green fronds. Those little “leaves” are a great garnish and provide additional flavor (so don’t discard them!).
When preparing the fennel, cut off the stems and the hard tip of the bulb. Then you’ll quarter the fennel bulb and remove the core. At that point, just slice them into bite site strips and lay them in an oven safe dish(s) that’s been greased with butter. Pour heavy cream over it, sprinkle parmesan cheese, a few dabs of butter, and tightly wrap it in foil before baking in the oven for an hour. The fennel should be fork tender at the hour mark, but may require more time if your fennel bulb(s) are on the larger side.
Once the baking dishes are unwrapped, put some pork rind crumbs and a little more cheese on top for extra flavor and texture. You can purchase pork rind crumbs but its just as easy to smash some in a bag or run them through a food processor. Once you’ve coated the top, gently crack a couple eggs on top and place the dish (uncovered) back in the oven until the whites have fully set (usually 12-15 minuets at 425°F). Garnish with a few springs of the fennel fronds, and you’re ready to enjoy!
Fennel & Egg al Forno
- 1 bulb fennel cored and cut into strips, fronds reserved
- 1 cup heavy cream
- ½ cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese finely grated
- 2-4 tbsp butter
- 4 large eggs
- ½ cup pork rind crumbs
- ¼ cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese finely grated
- Preheat oven to 375°F
- Grease 2 oven safe dishes with butter. Divide the fennel bulb strips evenly between both dishes. Pour ½ cup of cream into each dish and sprinkle the Parmesan cheese over each dish. Dot each dish with a few pieces of butter then cover tightly with foil and bake for 1 hour.
- Remove dishes from oven and remove foil. Raise oven temperature to 425°F
- Sprinkle each dish with pork rind crumbs and additional Parmesan cheese. Crack two eggs into each dish and place back into oven (uncovered) for 12-15 minutes.
- Garnish with reserved fennel fronds.