Giant Lemon Fennel Beans

Giant Lemon Fennel Beans Recipe

Baby fennel, big white beans, sliced lemon, a honey-kissed in-pan white wine sauce, all finished with a shower of chopped dill. If any of you are in a side-dish rut, I'm going to lobby for trying this. It's fast, it's good, and as a base idea, it's flexible. You can make the beans as instructed below, or use the recipe as a jumping off point. Add a poached egg on top to make a complete one bowl meal. Or, add a few cups of water (or herby broth), season well, and you have a bright, substantial stew. If you make it in an oven-proof skillet, you can top it with feta, chopped olives, and breadcrumbs, and bake it into a crunchy-topped gratin.

Giant Lemon Fennel Beans

Let me know if you have other ideas of where to take this. The last time we did a collective brainstorm, for guacamole, I loved it. So many great variations I never would have thought of. I have a favorites list on-deck next. Lots of good reads to come! xo -h


Giant Lemon Fennel Beans

HS: Large corona beans, or gigante beans are my favorite here, but white cannellinis are also a great option.

4-5 small fennel bulbs
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
Half a lemon, scrubbed and sliced or cut into wedges
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 cups cooked white beans (corona, cannellini, etc)
1/2 cup water (or reserved liquid from cooking the beans)
1/2 cup roughly chopped dill

To prep the fennel, remove each bulb's tough outermost layer. Trim each bulb's
base, and slice along the length into 1/2-inch thick wedges.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add the olive oil. When the oil starts to ripple and move away from the center of the pan, add the fennel. Scatter the wedges across the surface of the pan rather than gathering them into a clump, and let them sit without stirring until the sides touching the pan caramelize and brown a bit, roughly 2 minutes or so. Stir and cook for another 2 minutes or so, until the fennel has cooked through. Add the honey, lemon, salt, and wine to the pan, stirring to combine. Let the wine heat and reduce for a minute or so before adding the beans and water. Cook until the beans are warmed through, about 5 minutes.

These beans are good at just about any temp- hot, warm, or at room temperature. Serve topped with a big handful of chopped dill and a drizzle of your best olive oil.

Serves 4.

Prep time: 5 min - Cook time: 10 min

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Your Comments

March 18, 2014

Lovely! I reckon dijon/lemon/garlic would be great too.


March 18, 2014

it's like you know me so well...


Vegan Woman
March 18, 2014

This looks simply amazing! I love anything "Honey Kissed". Will try with the poached egg. Thank you for this post!


March 18, 2014

I just recently fell in love with fennel, so this looks amazing!


What a perfectly lovely springtime dish. When I think about how I'd like to eat this, I want to spoon it on some toasted rustic bread and eat it like bruschetta. : )


Always looking for new recipes for cannellini beans which I just love. This looks beautiful and I love the idea of a gratin with feta or maybe as a base for a vegetarian cottage pie type thing.


March 18, 2014



As much as I love fennel I need to try this out! I usually eat fennel raw only. All I have combined it with so far is oranges and olive oil. Thanks for sharing this lovely recipe with us :)


March 19, 2014

Oh, I love this. With warm, buttered crusty bread. So good.


Maui Girl Cooks
March 19, 2014

This sounds like a splendid way to enjoy white beans, which is one of my favorite beans. The flavors sound delicious & I can't wait to try this recipe. Thanks for sharing!


Oh this looks so lovely. I would love to spoon some of this over a big pile or herbed couscous or quinoa or something to soak up the juices for a complete meal. Absolutely gorgeous!


Emma Galloway
March 19, 2014

This sounds perfect! Especially love the sound of baking it in the oven with feta. Yum!


March 19, 2014

Que maravilha, belas fotos.


March 19, 2014

Question for Heidi, and others, if you want to chime in. I was recently in the Bay Area for work and picked up a few bags of Rancho Gordo beans to bring back east with me.

The bag of beautiful Scarlet Runners I have is staring at me from the pantry and I really want to do something special with them. They're big beans, and I imagine they cook up to a deep pink color.

What kinds of veg and flavors go best with these beauties?

Thanks for any ideas.


Gail {A Healthy Hunger}
March 19, 2014

There is nothing like caramelized fennel. I love the buttery texture and the smokey sweetness. I just love the idea of eating this warm. Here comes Spring!


Let me tell you Heidi, I think you do marvelous things with all ingredients. But you especially know your way around a bean. This is stunning. I've also enjoyed both your chipotle white bean recipe and your carrot, dill, and white bean salad. Sure I'm missing several other good ones too.


March 19, 2014

The Recipe sounds great! I would take it one step further and turn this into A Greek Dish by Frothing egg whites slowly adding fresh lemon juice and adding a bit of the cooked juices from the pan make sure it's warm not hot so as not to curdle, then incorporate with the dish by folding froth into the beans.
Avgolemono Style!


March 19, 2014

Suggestion for Deb: a good way to use those pink beans is to prepare a typical Chilean dish (porotos granados): Cook the beans with some cubed squash and basil leaves. Once they are cooked, you put the dish together with creamed corn (not too creamy, though) to thicken the broth and some sauteed chopped onion seasoned with a bit of cumin and paprika. You serve it with chopped fresh basil on top. It is like a thick soup, and delicious.
You can also use sliced corn instead of creamed corn; in this case it is a more liquid soup, but just as good.


March 19, 2014

Sounds and looks beautiful. I have some fennel in the refrigerator, but I'm not very familiar with it. Since I don't have baby fennel, can I use the fennel I have?


March 19, 2014

A great herb combination with cannellini beans is sage - so I would use sage in place of the dill and add in some roasted garlic.


March 19, 2014

What is your source for Corona Beans? It is sometimes difficult to find them dried that are not a hundred years old. Or do you just use canned?


March 19, 2014

These beans sound fantastic! I never know what to do with fennel--a raw salad is a little too much for me--but braising it? Genius. My ideas for variations are pretty simple--like subbing green beans for the fennel, adding some tomato to the broth for a semi-Provencal-y soup, or serving the whole business on a piece of toast, adding a parmesan breadcrumb, and sticking it under the broiler for a minute. Yay!


March 19, 2014

I'm thinking this beautiful fennel dish would also be very delicious with the addition of very thin slices or dices of half of a preserved lemon. As my first batch is ready to enjoy, I've been adding them to everything from hummus to grain salads to vegetable tagines.


Oh my lord, these beans are HUUUGE! What a lovely, simple dish! :) Thanks for sharing. So easy to adapt, too.


March 19, 2014

I'm thinking fresh favas from my garden


March 19, 2014

What a lovely dish, baby fennel and cannellini seems like perfect pairing. I’d toss in some spinach or kale and some broth to make soup. It’s raining where I am :-)


March 19, 2014

For Deb: I recently did some of those exact beans, and after a good overnight soak, they still needed simmering for several hours, so beware of this. I added green garlic sautéed with chopped kale & mustard greens in olive oil to the bowls before serving, and topped off with beans-- they are quite 'meaty' and yummy....and this recipe of Heidi's is awesome, will be doing it soon!


la domestique
March 19, 2014

Oooh I love the combo of gigantic beans and baby fennel, and the flavors are perfect for early spring! I look forward to trying this soon.


March 19, 2014

The gratin sounds delightful. Anything with fennel in the spring just sounds fresh and lovely. Thank you so much!


Michelle Reedy
March 19, 2014

So happy the fennel season has kicked off here in Australia. I'm a big fan of the bulb vegetable. Must say, I love it in a gratin.


March 19, 2014

I made this tonight--absolutely delicious! I don't care for big beans, so I used great northerns. Came out great and so easy.


March 20, 2014

Beans are one of my great loves. Fennel, we're still early in our relationship. We're still trying to figure each other out, see how well we play together. Maybe a double date will help fennel and I get to see the best in each other. Or maybe it will just make things terribly awkward.


Well this is all kinds of perfect and I can't wait to try it! As a variation I might, skip the honey & add slow roasted tomatoes and anchovies for a rustic Italian dish.


March 20, 2014

Made this today with scarlet runner beans-- it was both beautiful and so delicious. I served it on soft polenta. Whew was it good. This is a new fav for sure.


March 21, 2014

We tried it tonight for dinner and absolutely loved it! The combination has a very unexpected depth of flavour – is it the honey, the dill, or the lightly caramelised fennel? Not sure, but the whole has a fantastic sweet nuttiness...We didn't have any white wine on hand, so I just used a splash of apple cidre vinegar – I think it worked very well here, too. Thanks for this, x Valeria


Anne Marie
March 21, 2014

I made this tonight with giant lima beans and preserved lemon. I went the crunchy top gratin route with goat cheese crumbles, chopped olives, and buttered breadcrumbs. Yum!


March 22, 2014

I love fennel, so I am eager to give this a try...can anyone comment on using canned beans?


I love the champagne cork in your first photo...its presence suggests a simple, elegant meal - this lovely bean dish & a glass of champagne...a toast to Spring! We enjoyed your Shredded Egg Salad this week. Shredded eggs...genius! So light and fluffy and, as for fresh dill, well, it's going in and on just about everything these days. As always, many thanks.


March 22, 2014

Hi there, I've recently become a vegetarian and am so glad to have found this site. I've been wanting to explore different food options and these recipes are amazing, Heidi.


March 23, 2014

It's like you knew I had just cooked off tons of gigante beans and needed something to do with them! I loved this recipe and will surely be making it again and again. Thanks, Heidi.


March 24, 2014

All the flavors I want right now, thanks to spring finally arriving. I just got in a shipment of Rancho Gordo big white beans, so I'll have this in mind when I get to cooking them.


March 24, 2014

You could add more texture by frying the beans in a little olive oil, so that the edges get crispy, before folding in the other ingredients. I love doing that with beans; I first tasted them this way in Barcelona.


March 24, 2014

such a pretty backdrop! never seen anything like it before around here! what is it?


March 24, 2014

I could see carmelizing some onion along with the fennel, and adding some kale or other greens, serving over quinoa as an entree. I love the preserved lemons idea too


March 25, 2014

Keeping the lemon in there seems bold...maybe add potato and puree for kind of a vichyssoise?


sophie o.
March 27, 2014

that looks so so tasty! thanks for posting this, I'm always interested in new fennel recipes!


March 29, 2014

I'd love to put a Middle Eastern spin on this recipe. Add a couple of heaping spoonfuls of labneh, loosely swirl them around a la a marble cake, then sprinkle with zatar or sumac and toasted sesame seeds..


bev @ bevcooks
March 29, 2014

Oh gawwwwwsh this is incredible.


Hari Chandana
April 4, 2014

Looks too good!!


Kevin | keviniscooking
April 11, 2014

I've been doing a lot of Middle Eastern cooking and baking lately. I added some sesame seeds and chopped Moroccan Preserved Lemons to finish it off, it was lovely. And your photography is beautiful.


April 12, 2014

Hi! Is the white wine mandatory? Any ideas for a replacement - we never buy it. Thanks!