I love fennel. Baked, broiled, boiled, raw. Normally, I prepare it as a side dish. Not everyone is as crazy about it as I am and this allows me to eat a big helping.
I also, normally, buy 2 heads of fennel. Or at least one large one. Yet, in the back of the vegetable drawer, I found half a head of fennel. I had used the other half as a lunchtime salad. (Which I do not regret at all). But with the weather so cold, I don’t expect to eat another salad soon and this fennel needed some attention.
I also had a pack of sweet Italian sausage. It is about the only kind I buy because it is the most similar to Luganega, a pork sausage from Lombardy, the region in which I was born. Sometimes, I can find Luganega in the supermarket but a “sweet” Italian sausage isn’t a bad substitute.
That is a pretty natural pairing. Since I didn’t have any cream about, I went the tomato route and made a little sauce. It is by no means an original combination. There are hundreds of similar recipes available on the internet, as I have since found out. This is yet another reason you should give it a try. It is a flexible recipe and tastes just wonderful.
Fennel Sausage Pasta
1/2 -1 lb Luganega or sweet Italian sausage, cut into 1″ chunks
olive oil1/2 – 1 head of fennel, sliced in quarter moons
28 oz chopped tomatoes
salt and pepper
1/2 – 1 box of a shaped pasta, such as Campanelle or Penne
In a large saute pan, brown the sausage pieces over high heat in a swirl of olive oil. Add the fennel and lower heat. Cook until fennel has softened completely. Add tomatoes and season to taste.
In the meantime, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta according to directions on box. Drain and drizzle with olive oil. Top with sauce and serve.