Thursday, May 21, 2009
Fresh Fennel and Italian Sausage on Casarecce Pasta -- Ian and Christie's Great Fennel Adventure
I Hate Fennel. There, I said it. I asked Ian if he liked it but I forgot, if he hasn't eaten a certain food before his answer is always "No". So, in an attempt to expand our culinary horizons we boldly trekked into the vegetable store and bought a bulb of fennel.
We then picked out this great looking fennel sausage pasta from the Pasta et Cetera a la Di Stasio cookbook that looked delicious. It also looked like it would mask the taste of the fennel. I think it was a good starting point.
Ok, that was the easy part, but cutting the fennel was a little tricky. Seasoned fennel lovers out there will think I'm crazy, "how could she not know how to cut fennel, it's so easy" well, if you have never seen it cut before, how do you know what to save for eating, and what to throw out. Plus I hate liquorice so the smell was annoying.
To get rid of that bitter liquorice taste we sautéed it with crisp red and green peppers, onions, garlic, and Italian sausage until it was soft and caramelized. Take that fennel! Let me tell you, if fennel always tasted like that Ian and I would be big fans. I don't know if I actually like fennel or if Josée Di Stasio is just brilliant at creating wonderful recipes, but this pasta was a winner. I can't believe I just said that.
If you would like the recipe I would be more than happy to post it but I urge you to take out this book from the library, or buy it, or even borrow the book from a friend. Every recipe looks and tastes amazing! I just bought her other book A la Di Stasio because I took it out from the library three months in a row and didn't want to bring it back. Another great pasta recipe that we make every week (seriously) by Josée Di Stasio that is very similar is the Sausage and Spinach Shells.
Ok, by popular demand, here is my version of the recipe, but still go out and get the book!
Fresh Fennel and Italian Sausage on Pasta
adapted from "Pasta et Cetera" by Josee Di Stasio
500g, about 3 Italian Sausages (good quality, go to your butcher!)
1/2 to a full bulb of fennel (depending on if you like fennel), cut into strips
1 of each red and orange pepper, total two peppers, cut into strips
1 clove of garlic, chopped
1 tsp. fennel seeds
500g dried pasta
3/4 cup low sodium chicken stock
1/4 cup pasta water
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and Pepper
In a large pan remove skin from the sausage and sauté until no more pink can be seen. Remove the sausage but leave the fat from them in the pan. Sauté the fennel and peppers in the fat for 10 minutes or until the fennel becomes soft and caramelized. Add the garlic, fennel seeds, salt, and pepper and cook for 2 minutes. In a large pot boil salted water and cook pasta until al dente. During that time add the sausage back to the pan with the fennel and add the chicken stock. Cook until 2/3rds of the chicken stock is gone. When the pasta is done take the ¼ cup of pasta water and add it to the sausage and fennel mix. Add the grated Parmesan cheese and the drained pasta. Mix together and serve.