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Fennel au Gratin with Strong Ricotta of Puglia

Fennel au Gratin with Ricotta Forte Mousse

Fresh fennel topped with almonds is baked and served alongside a delicious mousse of ricotta forte or strong ricotta, a typical product of the Salento Region of Puglia, Italy. It's an easy first course that's also gluten-free!
Course Appetizer, First Course, Side Dish
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 8
Calories 368kcal
Author Executive Chef Donato Marsella, Palazzo Ducale Venturi


  • 3 fennel
  • 200 gr almonds blanched
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 5 ml olive oil extra virgin

Ricotta Mousse

  • 200 gr ricotta forte or substitute gorgonzola cheese
  • 300 gr soft cream cheese room temperature
  • 100 ml cream 10% cream


  • Slice fennel lengthwise into thick slices and then blanch in boiling water, drain and cool on ice
  • Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper, arrange cut fennel in the shape of a heart, brush with olive oil and add salt and pepper to taste
  • Pulverize half of the almonds and chop the remaining half of almonds into large pieces/ slices. Sprinkle the fennel with the almonds and drizzle with a little olive oil
  • Bake at 220 C or 425 F for 10 minutes until the almonds are browned

Ricotta Mousse

  • Place the ricotta forte cheese in a mixer and blend with the cream cheese and cream at a maximum speed for five minutes until the mixture is soft and homogenous.
  • Cool in the fridge for 10 minutes


  • Create a curl with a pastry bag and arrange the fennel au gratin beside it and garnish with fennel fronds, an edible flower and havled cherry tomatoes.


  • If you substitute gorgonzola or a firmer cheese for ricotta forte you'll need to add a bit more cream to get a smooth consistency.
  • Don't overcook the fennel - it should be slightly crisp and firm rather  than soggy so it holds its shape when plated. 
  • Nutrition calculations are estimates.  


Calories: 368kcal | Carbohydrates: 7g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 34g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Cholesterol: 71mg | Sodium: 151mg | Potassium: 252mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 800IU | Calcium: 156mg | Iron: 1.1mg