Caramelized Onion and Fennel Dip with Goat Cheese

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This Caramelized Onion and Fennel Dip with Goat Cheese is a rich, savory, and slightly sweet homemade version of your favorite party dip.

It’s made from the leftovers of this Caramelized Fennel & Onion Skillet Pizza so it also tastes great paired with absinthe beverages.

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Overhead close up shot of a pizza surrounded by a piece of cloth.

Caramelized Onion Dip

Caramelizing the onions and fennel is what makes this caramelized onion dip so good.

But caramelizing onions and fennel takes time, patience, and trust. I say trust because it’s easy to start thinking that you’re burning the onions and fennel. But as long as you can’t smell something burning, you’re doing fine.

Cutting the onions and fennel the right way is an important step in the caramelizing process. You want everything to be similar and consistent in size.

Cutting the Onions

  • Cut the top of the onion off (not the side with the “hair” but the side that looks like a tip). Place the cut side down on a cutting board and then slice the onion in half vertically.
  • Remove the papery husks and lay the onion flat on the cutting board. Cut the base off (the side with the hair) and make diagonal cuts going from the bottom of the onion to the top (watch this video if you need a visual aid).
  • Add sliced onions to a large bowl.

Cutting the Fennel

  • Wash the fennel and cut the base and top off.
  • Use a vegetable peeler to peel the outer layer of the fennel bulb clean. If it is really bruised and not fresh looking, simply peel the outer layer off and discard it.
  • Place the bottom of the fennel on a cutting board and then cut the fennel in half along the long side (watch this video if you need a visual aid).
  • If the core is big, take a paring knife and cut it out.
  • Thinly slice the fennel following the length. Add the sliced fennel to the bowl with the onions.

Caramelize

For caramelizing the onions and fennel, try to use a large and flat heavy-bottomed sauté pan because you want a lot of surface area for caramelizing.

You need to use enough extra-virgin olive oil to cover the entire bottom of the pan you are using. This can be anywhere from ¼ to ½ a cup.

  • Heat the olive oil in the sauté pan over medium-high heat. Once the oil is shimmering, add the onions and fennel and stir to coat.
  • Keep stirring occasionally for 10 minutes. Add salt and continue to cook for 30 more minutes to an hour, stirring every couple of minutes. You want the onions and fennel to start sticking a little to the pan and getting brown but you’ll want to stir them enough that they don’t burn.         
  • If the onions and fennel are getting really dry or are close to burning you can add a little water to the pan or more olive oil (you can also use broth, wine, or bourbon).     
  • Keep going until the onions and fennel are a rich brown color. Taste and add more salt if needed. Transfer to a bowl and let them come to room temperature.   

Making the Caramelized Onion Dip

Overhead shot of caramelized onion dip with pizza and drinks.

This caramelized onion dip is a sort of “non-recipe” because it’s made from leftovers. The caramelized onions and fennel and the goat cheese mixture make enough for 2 to 3 pizzas.

I made one pizza and then blended the rest of the ingredients together to make this dip. So, the ratio of onions and fennel to cheese was about the same as if I started the dip without making the pizza.

Start by making the cheese mixture:

  • In a food processor, pulse the goat cheese, 1 tablespoon olive oil, lemon juice, black pepper, and Chinese Five Spice until smooth and well blended.

Then add the caramelized onions and fennel:

  • Pulse and blend the caramelized onions and fennel to the cheese mixture a half cup at a time until you like the taste and the dip is cohesive and smooth.

At times, it will look coagulated, like the oils, solids, and liquids won’t come together. But a couple of long pulses will make it all come together.

An Absinthe Inspired Spread

Overhead shot of dip, pizza, drinks, and an absinthe bottle.

As you can see from the picture, I want you to enjoy this caramelized onion dip with the whole flavor experience.

Here are all the other recipes for everything you see in the picture. You’ll be able to click on the links once the posts go live:

Caramelized Onion and Fennel Dip with Goat Cheese

This Caramelized Onion and Fennel Dip with Goat Cheese is a rich, savory, and slightly sweet homemade version of your favorite party dip.
Servings 4 to 6
Prep Time 25 mins
Cook Time 1 hr

Ingredients

  • 1/4-1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil enough to cover the bottom of the sauté pan
  • 3 large onions thinly sliced
  • 4 fennel bulbs cored and thinly sliced, fronds reserved for later
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt + to taste
  • 8 ounces goat cheese
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper grind whole peppercorns in a spice grinder
  • 1/8 teaspoon Chinese 5 Spice

Instructions

  • Heat the olive oil (1/4 to 1/2 cup depending on your skillet’s size) in a large heavy-bottomed sauté pan over medium-high heat. Once the oil is shimmering, add the onions and fennel and stir to coat.
  • Keep stirring occasionally for 10 minutes. Add salt and continue to cook for 30 more minutes to an hour, stirring every couple of minutes. You want the onions and fennel to start sticking a little to the pan and getting brown but you’ll want to stir them enough that they don’t burn.
  • If the onions and fennel are getting really dry or are close to burning you can add a little water to the pan or more olive oil (you can also use broth, wine, or bourbon).
  • Keep going until the onions and fennel are a rich brown color. Taste and add more salt if needed. Transfer to a bowl and let them come to room temperature.
  • In a food processor, pulse the goat cheese, 1 tablespoon olive oil, lemon juice, black pepper, and Chinese Five Spice blend until smooth and well blended.
  • Pulse and blend the caramelized onions and fennel to the cheese mixture a half cup at a time until you like the taste* and the dip is cohesive and smooth. At some times, it will look coagulated, like the oils, solids, and liquids won’t come together.

Notes

This is a sort of “non-recipe” because it’s made from the leftovers of this Caramelized Fennel & Onion Skillet Pizza
The caramelized onions and fennel and the goat cheese mixture make enough for 2 to 3 pizzas.
I made one pizza and then blended the rest of the ingredients together to make this dip. So, the ratio of onions and fennel to cheese was about the same as if I started the dip without making the pizza.
Author: Megan Wells
Course: Sides and Snacks
Keyword: absinthe, caramelized onions, dips, fennel, food and drink pairing, picnic recipes
This Caramelized Onion and Fennel Dip with Goat Cheese is a rich, savory, and slightly sweet homemade version of your favorite party dip. | Food and Drink Pairing | Party Appetizer | Sides | Snacks | #partyfood | www.megiswell.com

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