A Spring Casserole with Yellow Eye Beans and Fennel

June 17, 2021

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A Spring Casserole with Yellow Eye Beans and Fennel

I’ve talked about my previous weariness with fennel. I love anise and I love vegetables, but a big old hunk of fennel is not what excites me, especially raw. I’ve come to love it, especially raw and thinly sliced or slowly braised and caramelized. It’s an amazing vegetable and our own Creative Director here at Rancho Gordo, Rachel Padilla, took a fine but somewhat stodgy recipe that I blogged about and made it her own.

This is Rachel’s new overhauled version and we all thought it was superior when we had it for lunch in our office here at Rancho Gordo. I would think you could substitute any medium or light bean for the Yellow Eyes but they’re so delicious, I would use them without a doubt.

The Recipe

Yield: four to six servings



  • 2 large fennel bulbs, trimmed
  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided use
  • ½ of a medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Leaves from 4 to 6 stems fresh thyme
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 3 to 4 cups cooked Rancho Gordo Yellow Eye beans, drained
  • Zest of 1 lemon, plus a squeeze of lemon
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • 2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
  • ½ cup dried breadcrumbs
  • ½ cup finely grated parmesan cheese
  • ½ cup minced fresh basil, plus more for garnish


  1. Preheat the oven to 400F.
  2. Cut the fennel bulbs in half; cut crosswise into slices about ½ inch thick, then roughly chop. Rinse well.
  3. Heat a large saute pan or skillet over medium heat, and add 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add the onion and saute until soft and caramelized, about 10 minutes. Remove the onion and reserve. Add the remaining oil to the pan, then add the fennel, garlic, bay leaves, and thyme. Saute until the fennel is soft and beginning to turn golden, another 10 or so minutes. Add the wine and vegetable stock and stir, scraping the bottom of the pan to deglaze it. Let this cook for about 5 minutes. Stir in the onions, beans, and lemon zest and juice. Taste and season generously with salt and pepper. Transfer the vegetable mixture to a wide baking dish.
  4. In a small pan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the bread crumbs, cheese, and basil, and stir to mix well. Sprinkle this mixture over the baking dish.
  5. Cover the dish with foil and bake for 30 to 40 minutes. Uncover and bake until the top is golden, 15 to 20 minutes more. Remove and let sit for 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with fresh herbs before serving.

This locally inspired recipe is brought to you by Pam Walker. Pam is an avid home cook, writer, and local farm and food activist who is also a board member of the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market Institute. Thank you, Pam, for helping inspire us to use locally sourced ingredients!