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Get Ready for Eat, Pray, Love: An Italian-Inspired Recipe

Finally, the much anticipated release of Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love is here! The film opens in theaters this week on August 13, 2010. While not everyone can take a year off to travel the world, we can all celebrate the cuisine of Italy. This delicious crostini recipe combines mascarpone, an Italian cream cheese, with tender and sweet braised fennel. With hints of orange and honey, you’ll feel like the Mediterranean is just outside your door.

Crostini of Mascarpone with Orange and Honey Caramelized Fennel
This recipe can also be found in our Appetizer Recipe Library!


Caramelized Fennel
2 Tablespoons butter
2 large fennel bulbs, stems and core removed, very thinly sliced into 1/4-inch-thick slices (reserve frond for garnish)
1/4 cup white wine
1 teaspoon orange zest
1/2 cup fresh squeezed orange juice (from about 2 Navel oranges)
1/2 cup vegetable stock
2 Tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped
1 Tablespoon flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt

Crostini and Herbed Mascarpone
1 baguette, sliced diagonally into slices 1/4-inch thick
1/3 cup olive oil
8 ounces fresh mascarpone
1/4 teaspoon orange zest
1 teaspoon orange juice
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
1 Tablespoon flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
Parsley, thyme, or fennel frond for garnish


Sauté Fennel: Melt butter in a large sauté pan. Add fennel and sauté until starting to soften and brown, about 15 minutes. Add wine and reduce to a syrup.  Zest the orange and set aside (you will use the zest/ juice in the mascarpone so reserve any unused juice and zest). Add the orange juice, stock, honey and vinegar.  Cook over medium heat until the fennel is caramelized, about 15-20 minutes.  Add the reserved orange zest, thyme, parsley, and salt.  Set aside.

Make Crostini: Preheat oven to 375°F. Brush the bread slices on both sides with olive oil.  Arrange the slices on a baking sheet and cook until the slices are golden around the edges and crisp, about 10-15 minutes.  Set aside to cool.

Herbed Mascarpone: In a small bowl, mix the mascarpone with a fork and add the orange zest and juice, thyme, parsley and salt.

Assemble Crostini: Spread 1 Tablespoon of mascarpone onto each crostini.  Spoon a tablespoon of the fennel mixture on top, and garnish with a fennel frond.  Serve.

Makes 24 crostini.

For more seasonal recipes, check out our Recipes page!

Need a Recipe for Mother’s Day Brunch?

Still haven’t figured out what you’re doing for Mom on Mother’s Day? How about whipping up this yummy Asparagus Breakfast Bread Pudding with Green Garlic and Fontina? A far cry from your typical scrambled eggs, this deliciously cheesy breakfast bread pudding is sure to impress!

Want to learn how to make more delicious brunch dishes? Treat Mom to Parties That Cook’s Mother’s Day Brunch Cooking Class in San Francisco or Chicago! Did we mention the complimentary mimosas?


1 pound French bread, crusts removed, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 medium yellow onion, minced (about ½ cup)
1 spring leek, cleaned and chopped
2 clove garlic, minced (or 2 green garlic stalks, white part minced)
1 bunch asparagus, tough stems removed, cut into 1 inch pieces
10-ounces spinach, wilted in a dry pan, squeezed to remove water and coarsely chopped
3/4 cup medium-dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc
6 large eggs
2 cups heavy cream
8 ounces Fontina cheese, grated (about 1 1/2 cups grated)
2 teaspoons fresh thyme
2 Tablespoons parsley, chopped
½ teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 ¼ teaspoons kosher salt
Cooking spray

Dry Bread: Heat oven to 375ºF.  Arrange bread cubes in a single layer on a sheet pan and bake until dry and stale-feeling, about 5-10 minutes. (Alternatively, leave slices out overnight to dry.)  Set aside.

Sauté Vegetables:
Melt butter in medium skillet over medium heat.  Sauté minced onions and leek until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, asparagus, wilted spinach, and wine.  Cook, stirring occasionally, about 3-5 minutes.  Transfer to medium bowl; set aside.

Assemble: Whisk eggs in a large bowl until combined; whisk in heavy cream, half of the Fontina cheese, sautéed vegetables, thyme, parsley, lemon zest and juice and salt. Add bread. Combine then let sit for 5 minutes so the liquid can be absorbed.

Bake: Spray a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray (or 8 ramekins). Spoon bread mixture into the pan; sprinkle remaining cheese over surface.  Bake until both edges and center are puffed and slightly golden, about 25-30 minutes.  Cool slightly; serve. Serves 8 as a main course for breakfast.

Recipe created by Parties That Cook® www.PartiesThatCook.com.