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Fennel and taleggio pie

Updated: Wed, 12 April, 2023

Fennel and Taleggio pie in shortcrust pastry made from scratch, totally worth the effort. Make twice as much pastry for the freezer!

fennel and taleggio pie

Pastry from scratch? What a palaver!

What? Making pastry from scratch, you’ve got to be kidding! Life’s too short to be rubbing lard into flour and some of us have a day job. I’m home from work at half seven and weekends are surely for a bit of chilling. I certainly can’t be fussed to clean up the flour from all over the kitchen and to wait for ever for the pastry to chill.

Plus, rolling out dough is a worse chore than ironing.

Okay – I get it.

Very well, I’m not a kitchen fascist. You are perfectly free to use shop bought shortcrust pastry, even a ready-made shell. Go on, knock yourself out. But don’t blame me for missing out on a fantastic dish that you were too much of a lazy bum to cook.

fennel pie

You can’t beat homemade pie pastry

Agreed, some things are completely not worth making from scratch. Puff pastry for one, mayonnaise for two. Anchovy paste is a perfectly serviceable condiment and so is horseradish sauce.

But sometimes it just won’t do to get halfway-ready products because the whole project calls for spending time in the kitchen – and a pie making is one of those.

Fennel and Taleggio pie is so gorgeous, it matters not if you’re a vegetarian or a meat eater – you won’t miss bacon in it.

It is actually better the next day at room temperature, if there’s any left. Fennel tastes gorgeous and the filling is amazingly creamy though there is no cream in the ingredients.

An optional idea: add a few chopped mushrooms to the fennel if you’d like more bite to the filling.

And if you really can’t find Taleggio anywhere, substitute Brie or Camembert with the rind trimmed.

fennel and taleggio cheese shortcrust pie

How to make the pastry

This is an excellent recipe for all kinds of savoury pies, so it’s worth to double the ingredients and freeze half for another occasion.

Lard makes the pastry really supple and gives it the ‘melting in the mouth’ texture. But we don’t often cook with lard so buying the whole packet only to use 50 grams – or even 100, if doubling up – is quite wasteful. You can replace the lard with shortening or just use all butter.

If you have a food processor or a standing mixer, it will do the job for you in a jiffy. Otherwise you can cut the fat into the dry ingredients with knives or your fingers, then knead it all into a ball of dough by hand.

The pastry needs to chill for at least half an hour so the gluten can relax and the pastry won’t crumble when rolled out.

Rolling out, on the other hand, is easier when the pastry is at room temperature so in an ideal world chill the pastry, then thaw it before rolling out. And best results are when baking the pastry straight from the fridge – so it’s a bit of fridge toing and froing.

vegetarian pie with fennel and cheese

How to make fennel and Taleggio filling

Taleggio is an Italian cow milk cheese, the soft but rubbery type like Reblochon or Munster. It is great to use in these kinds of dishes because it melts but doesn’t run and glues the rest of the filling ingredients together.


And the rest of ingredients is just fennel, thinly sliced and softened for five minutes by salting which speeds up the cooking. And that takes about 20 minutes, sweating it gently in butter and olive oil until completely soft and the moisture has all evaporated.

In goes the cheese and seasoning: black pepper, lemon juice and herbs, tarragon and dill by my preference.

It now needs to cool down before it’s loaded into the pie case, otherwise soggy bottoms are unavoidable.

But both the pastry and the filling can be made ahead and assembled on the baking day, thus making the work completely manageable.

cooking fennel pie filling

Assembling and baking the pie

This is a proper pie, with bottom and top and filling. I really do not have time for those pretend pies that only wear a crust top and have no pastry bottom. All fur coat and no knickers, those.

When you’ve chilled and thawed again the pastry, roll out the bottom, then the lid, cutting fancy patterns or not.

pie top and bottom

I brush the bottom of the pie with cream cheese to avoid sogginess, then line it with grated Cheddar but the calorie-conscious may skip the extra cheese. The filling goes in, then lid set on the edge of the base brushed with cold water, so the two stick.

Trim the excess pastry and scrimp it if you like, or pinch decorative ruffles. If you choose to go for a solid pie top, cut a vent in it. Brush everything with beaten egg for a glossy appearance and slip it into the oven for about an hour.

assembling pie

It’s lovely hot or cold, with a green salad or a mash.

More pie recipes

Ottolenghi inspired fondue filo pie, with butternut squash swapped for mushrooms. It’s a combo of Savoyard raclette experience and a Greek or Middle Eastern filo pie, and it’s excellent.

Chicken and mushroom pie with homemade Cheddar crust. Shortcrust pastry made from scratch, creamy chicken and wild mushroom filling, it’s not a very easy recipe but super tasty. Chicken and porcini mushroom pie baked for 40 minutes at 200C.

Pork and mushroom pie served hot or warm, with gravy and chunky tender pork. Not the traditional raised pork pie, this is more like steak or chicken pie with chunks of pork cooked in gravy. Pork pie with crisp crust and flavoursome pieces of meat and wild mushrooms inside.

fennel taleggio pie

More fennel recipes

Fennel and Gorgonzola pasta recipe. Gorgonzola cheese makes the nicest sauce for the pasta, pappardelle or fettuccine.

Sliced sautéed fennel, gorgeously caramelised on a knoblet of butter and a glug of maple syrup, sweetness broken beautifully with noble balsamic vinegar.

Baked fennel with tomatoes and plums: three ingredients and what a burst of flavour! It makes a good vegetarian lunch or an interesting side for meat or fish.


Fennel and taleggio pie

Servings: 4-6Time: 2 hours


  • For the pastry:
  • 300g (2½ cup) plain flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp mustard powder
  • 100g (7 tbsp) cold butter, diced
  • 50g (3½ tbsp) cold lard, diced
  • 1 medium egg
  • 60 – 80ml (¼ cup) iced water
  • 1 tsp white wine vinegar
  • For the filling:
  • 2 large bulbs of fennel
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 150g (5 oz.) Taleggio cheese
  • a squeeze of lemon, to taste
  • black pepper, to taste
  • ½ bunch of fresh dill
  • 4 sprigs of fresh tarragon
  • For the pie:
  • 1 tbsp cream cheese
  • 50g (1½ oz.) grated Cheddar or Gruyere
  • beaten egg, for brushing


1. To make the pastry – which can be made ahead and stored in the fridge or frozen – stir the flour, salt and mustard powder in a large bowl or in the bowl of a standing mixer. Add the diced butter and lard and process or rub with your fingers until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs.

2. Beat the egg with the water and vinegar and gradually add to the flour mixture, stirring the liquid in with a large fork or a spatula. Add a little more water if it looks dry. When it starts clumping together, give it a quick knead with your hands and gather the pastry into a ball. Divide it into 1/3 and 2/3; wrap both portions in cling film and chill for at least an hour.

3. Halve the fennel bulbs lengthwise and slice across thinly. Discard the tough stalks but keep the green fronds and chop them finely. Sprinkle the sliced fennel generously with salt and leave for 5 minutes.

4. In a large saucepan melt the butter and add the olive oil over medium heat. Add the fennel, cover the pan and cook gently for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened. Take off the lid and cook for further 5-10 minutes until the liquid evaporates.

5. Crumble in the cheese, take it off the heat, season with black pepper, a squeeze of lemon and stir in the herbs and the fennel fronds. Cool it completely; if you need to speed up the cooling process, place the pan in a bowl of ice cold water.

6. When the filling is cold, prepare the pastry bottom and lid: roll out the bigger portion to a round of about 24cm in diameter, depending on the size and shape of your pie dish; it needs to cover the bottom with an overhang.

7. Break the egg that will be used for brushing and use some of the white to brush over the bottom of the pie, to stop it from getting soggy. Return to the fridge while you roll out the lid to a smaller circle; just to cover the top. You may want to cut out a few holes or shapes in the pastry top.

8. Preheat the oven to 190C/200F/gas 5.

9. Brush the pastry bottom with the cream cheese, and sprinkle half the grated Cheddar. Spoon the filling into the dish and top with the remaining Cheddar; brush the edges with the egg lightly beaten with a spoonful of cold water.

10. Cover with the pastry lid, press the edges and trim the excess pastry. Scrunch or crimp up the edge of the pie and brush it generously with the beaten egg.

11. Bake the pie in the lower half of the oven for about 45 – 50 minutes until golden brown. Let it stand for 5 minutes before serving, with mashed potatoes and green vegetables or a plain green salad.

Originally published: Mon, 19 March, 2018

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Hello! I'm Anna Gaze, the Cuisine Fiend. Welcome to my recipe collection.

I have lots of recipes for you to choose from: healthy or indulgent, easy or more challenging, quick or involved - but always tasty.


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