Fennel Pancetta Dip

This hot cheesy dip is a real crowd-pleasing appetizer. Serve with pita crisps or crackers.

Yield: Makes about 5 cups

Fennel Pancetta Dip


  • 1 cup diced pancetta
  • 2½ cups sliced cored fennel bulbs
  • 2 cups chopped yellow onions
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 1 pkg cream cheese, softened (8 oz/250 g)
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground pepper
  • ¼ tsp fennel seed, crushed
  • ¼ cup panko (japanese-style bread crumbs)
  • pita crisps or crackers*


  1. Sauté pancetta in a large non-stick frypan over medium heat until browned and crisp, about 8 – 10 minutes. Remove pancetta with a slotted spoon; drain pancetta on paper towels and set aside. Drain off all, but 1 tbsp fat.
  2. Add fennel, onions and garlic to frypan; sauté until onions and fennel have softened and are lightly browned, about 10 – 12 minutes. Pour in wine and simmer, stirring, until liquid is almost evaporated. Remove from heat and cool slightly.
  3. Transfer fennel mixture to a food processor and purée until almost smooth. Divide cream cheese into 4 pieces. Add cream cheese, one piece at a time, processing after each addition until smooth.
  4. Transfer mixture to a large bowl. Add sour cream, Parmesan, parsley, salt, pepper, fennel seed and cooked pancetta. Stir until combined.
  5. Spoon mixture into a 1½ quart baking dish and smooth out top. Dip may be prepared to this point, covered and refrigerated for up to 24 hours. Before baking, remove from refrigerator and let stand for 20 – 30 minutes.
  6. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  7. Sprinkle panko over dip. Bake, uncovered, until bread crumbs are golden brown and dip is hot and bubbly, about 20 – 25 minutes. Serve warm with pita crisps or crackers.
Nutritional analysis per 2 tbsp serving:

54 calories, 3.9 g fat, 1.9 g protein, 2.2 g carbohydrate, 0.3 g fibre, 151 mg sodium

*Ingredient not included in nutritional analysis. 


In our cooking, we sometimes substitute bacon, pancetta and prosciutto — they’re all similar pork products after all! But similar doesn’t mean the same. Both bacon and pancetta are made from pork belly and cured. Breakfast favourite bacon goes through the extra step of smoking. These two cured meats are then cooked before eating — unlike prosciutto.


Italian favourite prosciutto is the same cut as ham. It's cured slowly over a few months, or longer, to concentrate the flavour. You don't have to cook it before eating, though we sometimes crisp it in a pan to go with our eggs for breakfast!