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Fennel Orange Salad and Savory Cheese

This Parmigiano Reggiano Cacio e Pepe Lava “Cake” oozes cheesy goodness as it graces a fennel orange salad. What a way to begin a special meal.

Parmigiano Reggiano Cacio E Pepe Lava Cake

The Chef and The Dish provided the class and the cost of ingredients. All opinions though are my own.

This fennel orange salad with a parmigiano reggiano cacio e pepe molten lava cake is straight from Italy. Well, almost. 

Recently I was transported via SKYPE for a cooking class with Chef Paola of The Chef and The Dish. (The magic of technology!)

Who  wouldn’t say yes to cooking a three course lunch when the star of the show is Parmigiano Reggiano? Just count me in.

The Chef and The Dish offers amazing cooking classes from around the world, right in your very own kitchen. From Paris to Japan to Thailand to New Orleans you can video call your own personal chef to teach you how to cook.

From Spaghetti Carbonara to tapas in Spain, goulash in Hungary and jambalaya in New Orleans, well, the list goes on and on.

Preparing for the class was a cinch. A grocery list and a necessary items check sheet was provided, along with a personal 15 minute SKYPE call about a week before the lesson.

Before you knew it, it was Saturday morning.  In our case we opened a bottle of wine-Italian of course, and one that was from the proper region…


Then Chef Paola gave us a ring via SKYPE on the computer, and after a short informative lesson about the Bologna region of Italy and all its incredible food, we were cooking with Chef Paola looking over our shoulder.

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This was a double date…we invited friends over and then Robin and I put the men to work. Well, Chef Paola had a hand in it too!

We figured it was time for them to learn how to make us girls a fancy schmancy Italiano meal. I think they did well, except for Manservant almost burning our poaching pears.

I thought Chef Paola might lose it, but we saved them just in time and oh my, were they, in their caramelized goodness, a treat to be had.

What a way to spend a Saturday afternoon! Almost like we were in Italy…we sure felt the need for a siesta after lunch!

After learning about Parmigiano Reggiano and discussing wine we dove right into preparing Bruschetta and Spaghetti Carbonara and Ricotta Poached Pears.

I learned the proper way to slice a tomato and what guanciale is.

Actually it is now my new favorite “bacon” and at this point there is only one spot in Denver I’ve found it. This cured pig cheek is divine and I am so happy to have discovered it.

Guanciale, Cheese, Eggs

The Carbonara? Let me just dream. It was divinely perfect.

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Such a simple dish that so many screw up. Well Chef Paola taught us how NOT to screw up!

The bruschetta was better than any bruschetta we’ve had anywhere…including Italy!

Perhaps it was blanching the tomatoes or rubbing the bread with garlic or just taking the time to let the ciabatta sit while the tomatoes rested so drowsily on top and the ciabatta absorbed the end of summer juice.

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And poached pears with Parmigiano? Yes, it worked out well! I never would have thought that Parmigiano would work with poached pears but the saltiness of the cheese pairs well with the sweetness of the pears.

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 This was one fun afternoon. I made sure we were well set up before our SKYPE time.

With so many luscious ingredients I decided to display everything. It wasn’t quite Renaissance art but it was sure pretty to me.

I also made sure our table was set-because good food deserves a pretty setting. I also think it tastes better that way.


When we met Chef Paola she assured us she was not as young as we might think. Yes, she was all of 30, which made us explode with laughter!

After seeing Chef Paola lift the Parmigiano Reggiano-she sure is strong- we had a geography tour of Italy.

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And then we began our cooking. Taking photos quickly is not my forte but at least you get the idea!

And taking photos when people are breathing down your neck and ready to eat is a little stressful-but that was relieved by the glass of wine I had in my hand.

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I don’t need to tell you that The Chef and The Dish makes a great gift to the cooks and non-cooks in your life. This is an experience that you can’t get in a staged kitchen.

This is learning how to cook in your own home with your own personal chef cooking with you. Yes, Chef Paola cooks in her kitchen too.

Who she shares her lunch with I do not know! I am drooling looking at The Chef and The Dish’s website with so many fabulous class options all over the world.

Experiences are the most remembered gifts. You knew that, right? So go check out The Chef and The Dish. Spots are filling up fast!

And this is how she left us. Smiling faces. Hungry faces. Can’t wait until next time faces!


Fennel Orange Salad with Parmesan cheesecake

Notes for Making Fennel Orange Salad with Parmigiano Reggiano Molten Lava Cake:

Now on to another Chef Paola recipe. I just love this video of her making this savory cake.

I decided to serve it with our luscious meal. It sure wasn’t necessary, but it sure was good.

This simple to prepare molten lava Parmigiano Reggiano “cake”, served over a bed of fennel and oranges with a hint of dill, was a great compliment to our three course meal. And I’ve made it three times since.

Yep. This fennel orange salad truly rocks! Or is it the savory Parmigiano lava cake that rocks more? You decide!

I did take the liberty of adding pepper to the Chef’s recipe. I love the flavor, but if you are not a pepper person, just leave it out.

Note to those who say they aren’t lovers of fennel: Try this simple salad with the flavors of the orange and the saltiness of the cheese, the fennel totally adds a new dimension with its anise flavor.

Make sure when baking these Parmigiano cakes that they don’t overbake. Otherwise they will not produce lava-so to speak.

There should be a little spot of dough on top of the cake that looks unbaked. If they look totally baked, in my experience, you have baked them too long.

They only need about 7-10 minutes in the oven, so watch carefully.

Err on the side of underbaking and make sure all your ingredients are at room temperature.

The Chef recommends baking for 10 minutes, however each time I did that they were overcooked. Still delicious, but not flowing…so to speak!

Now go make this fab fennel orange salad and these divine lava cakes. And then enjoy while perusing delicious food from around the world.

Honestly the class descriptions are like a mini food tour. Thanks to The Chef and The Dish for providing this splendid experience!

If you are need more:

4 Ingredient Fettuccine Alfredo

fettuccine alfredo

Linguini with Clam Sauce

IMO, this linguini with clam sauce is the best way to eat clams! Made the traditional Italian way, you will be amazed at how good it is and how simple to make! #pasta #Italianfood #clams

Best Tomato Sauce Ever

Spaghetti with tomato sauce

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Parmigiano Reggiano Cacio E Pepe Lava Cake

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parmesan lava cake with fennel orange salad

Parmigiano Reggiano Cacio e Pepe Lava “Cake”

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 1 review
  • Author: Abbe Odenwalder
  • Prep Time: 20 Minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 Minutes
  • Total Time: 30 Minutes
  • Yield: 6 Servings 1x
  • Category: Appetizer, Salad
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: Italian


This Parmigiano Reggiano Cacio E Pepe Lava “Cake” oozes cheesy goodness as it graces a fennel and orange salad. What a way to begin a special meal.



1/2 c butter plus extra for greasing the souffle or muffin cups

2/3 c flour

3 c of Parmigiano Reggiano plus a little more for sprinkling in the souffle or muffin cups

6 eggs

1 t of fresh black pepper

1 Fennel Bulb, thinly sliced

1 Orange, peeled and thinly sliced into rounds

Fresh dill

Olive Oil

Salt and Pepper


Preheat oven to 400. Butter 6 muffin cups or souffle dishes and then sprinkle with cheese.

In a sauce pan, melt 1/2 c of butter. Whisk in 2/3 c of flour to make a roux. Pour the roux into a mixing bowl.

Freshly grate 3 1/2 c of Parmigiano, from the wedge. Set aside.

Add 6 eggs one at a time, whisking constantly between each. You do not want the eggs to cook so make sure to whisk well while adding the first one. Add 3c Parmigiano in handfuls while stirring well. Stir in 1 t freshly ground black pepper if using.

Scoop mixture into 6 souffle dishes or muffin cups that each hold about 1/2 cup. These do rise. Place in oven and bake for 10 minutes. Do not overbake or they will not flow. There may be a little dot of uncooked dough on the top of each.

Prepare fennel and orange salad while these are baking.  Don’t forget to add the dill. Dress lightly with olive oil and salt and pepper.

Remove cakes from oven and loosen them gently by running a knife around the edges. These lifted out quite easily for me. Serve on top of salad. Enjoy!


These can also be served on a bed of arugula, if you don’t happen to be a fennel lover. Be sure though to add in the dill and oranges!


Recipe rating 5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

Karen (Back Road Journal)

Thursday 6th of December 2018

With lots of helping hands in the kitchen and a professional on the computer, you know it had to be a fun experience.

Abbe Odenwalder

Friday 7th of December 2018

Well worth doing Karen!

John / Kitchen Riffs

Tuesday 27th of November 2018

What a fun time that must have been! And what a terrific dish -- this looks gorgeous. Not to mention darn good. :-)


Monday 26th of November 2018

What an exciting experience (and beautiful food). GREG


Monday 26th of November 2018

How fun to have a cooking class right at home! And, I love the idea of a savory molten lava cake. Sounds delicious.


Monday 26th of November 2018

What a fun idea to do a cooking class like this! Love that savory lava cake!