1 1/2 cups (150 g) grated fontina or Gruyère cheese
1 pinch ground nutmeg
1 pinch cayenne pepper
3 fennel bulbs, halved and thinly sliced
1 onion, chopped
2 tbsp butter
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup (125 ml) chicken broth
8 cups (225 g) kale leaves, blanched and coarsely chopped
Salt and pepper
In a skillet over medium-high heat, brown the bread in the oil. Add the garlic and continue cooking for 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat. Add the Parmesan cheese and fennel fronds. Set aside.
Fontina Cheese Béchamel
In a small saucepan, melt the butter. Add the flour and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add the milk and bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Let simmer for about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese, nutmeg and cayenne pepper. Cover and set aside.
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, brown the fennel and onion in the butter for 20 minutes. Add the garlic and broth and continue cooking for about 15 minutes or until the fennel is tender and lightly caramelized and the mixture is almost dry. Adjust the seasoning.
With the rack in the middle position, preheat the oven to 450°F (225°C).
In a large baking dish, spread half the fennel mixture and half the kale. Drizzle with half the béchamel sauce. Repeat with the remaining fennel, kale and sauce. Top with the croutons.
Bake for 15 minutes. Finish under the broiler until the croutons are golden brown.