Oh thank goodness for cheese!
Seriously though, I think cheese is one of my favorite food groups (although I try not to get too carried away.) There are some nights when a simple cheese platter sounds like a much more viable dinner option than any other sort of meal, fancy or not. When you get home from a long day at work, put on your PJ’s right away (everyone does this, right?) and finally kick up your heels, sometimes you just don’t even want to think about cooking. Especially in this crazy holiday season, the fiancé and I have barely been home, hence we have no groceries, hence cheese for dinner (because we always have cheese!)
Of course, we always try to keep our cheese platters balanced with some nuts and fruit (dried and/or fresh), but there are times that I say to myself “We should really try and cover more food groups here.” I think I might have solved our problem with this Caramelized Fennel, White Bean & Gruyere Dip!
I can’t exactly remember when I first thought up this recipe (it’s been in my “Ideas” notebook for over a year!) but I’m soooo glad I finally brought it to life. It is sooooo good. Like, seriously, you won’t even be able to stop at any sort of “decent” serving size…You’ll just keep going back for more.
But the good news is, there are veggies AND healthy protein in this dip!! Hurrah! There is a solid base of cheese, but we do our best to make it acceptable by using light cream cheese. It’s the little things, right? We also puree white beans into the cheese, giving the dish some serious heft (and an extra healthy factor!) On top of that, we take fennel (yes, it’s a veggie! Fist pump) and get it nice and caramelized before stirring it in to the ooey-gooey delicious cheese and bean mixture.
After a quick run in the oven and a shot under the broiler, we have a creamy, decadent dip with some secret nutritional powerhouses. Scooped up with crackers, fresh crusty bread or even more veggies (oh, the scandal!) that fondue sitting next to your dip at the holiday cocktail party will most likely go untouched the entire night. Sorry not sorry?
I will definitely be making this Caramelized Fennel, White Bean & Gruyere Dip many more times in the weeks to come. It’s the perfect comfort food snack (er…dinner?) for these cooler winter months and would be appropriate for just about any get-together you attend.
Does anyone else have a favorite veggie-incorporating dip you like to make for this time of year? I’m trying to slowly ease myself into a more veggie-filled world come the New Year (time to get wedding ready!) so any suggestions are more than welcome! Here’s to a fabulous Sunday! XO
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 8 ounces light cream cheese
- 1 can (15 ounces) white beans, drained & rinsed (I used Great Northern beans)
- 6 ounces (approximately 1 ½ cups) shredded gruyere
- ½ cup plus 1 ounce grated Parmesan (divided)
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Heat a large saucepan over medium heat with 2 tablespoons of butter. Once butter has melted, add fennel and garlic. Saute until fennel becomes soft and starts to caramelize, about 10-20 minutes. Saute for a shorter period of time if you want the fennel taste to be more pronounced in the dip, or for a longer period of time if you want the taste to be more muted. Remove from heat.
- Add cream cheese, gruyere, ½ cup Parmesan and white beans to a food processor. Pulse until smooth.
- Transfer cheese and bean mixture into a medium mixing bowl, stir in caramelized fennel and garlic.
- Spread mixture into baking dish. Top with additional ounce of Parmesan and bake in oven for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, turn on the broiler and broil on high for 5 minutes. Let cool before digging in!
Wine Pairing Note: This dish is PERFECT with an oaked Chardonnay with a little bit of acidity.
Gimme all the cheese!