Like many households, I’m sure, pasta is our go-to meal. When we don’t know what to cook, you can bet it will end up involving pasta. Whether it’s my tomato-free bolognese, a decadent carbonara or gut-lining mac’n’cheese, we love the carby-comfort food hit.
Recently, though, we’ve been trying to experiment a bit more. When we say “oh, we’ll have pasta” we try to pick out a new recipe, try a new combination. Even, as in this recipe, to try something new with an ingredient we rarely use.
Fennel is something I’m a bit scared of, to tell the truth. I have never liked aniseed, going as far as retching when the Liquorice Alsorts were bought out on family car journeys. It was a Dynamo Pizza (now sadly removed from the menu) that first got me eating fennel – the combination of just al-dente fennel with ham, mozzarella and pomegranate seeds was a delight. And so I agreed to try out this pasta dish. And a few additions later, we have a firm favourite…
- 1 tbsp olive oil, plus a little extra virgin olive oil to drizzle before serving
- 1&1/2 tsp fennel seeds
- 3 garlic cloves,crushed
- 1 lemon, both the zest and the juice – if we have half a lemon hanging around in the fridge we’ll sometimes add extra too
- 1 fennel bulb, finely sliced, fronds (the green flowery bits) reserved
- 175g linguine
- 1/3 pack parsley, chopped (I’m not a fan of parsley but it does work here)
- Parmesan, or other similar hard cheese
Heat the oil in a frying pan cook the fennel seeds until they pop (about 90 seconds over a not-too-high heat). Add in the garlic and allow to cook for a minute or so, but don’t let it colour. Throw in the lemon zest and half the fennel, lower the heat and cook for 10-12 mins or until the fennel has softened – cook the pasta whilst you’re waiting.
Add the cooked pasta to the frying pan, along with a few tablespoons of pasta water (reserve a bit more, just in case). Toss together, along with the remaining raw fennel, parsley and lemon juice. Season well, then pile into bowls, topping with the fennel fronds, a drizzle of oil and a generous serving of parmesan. Perfect with a glass of chilled white wine!
We found this was a gorgeously light pasta dish, yet still full of flavour. The contrasting textures of the pasta alongside the cooked and raw fennel added extra interest. All in all a rather yummy dish!
What’s your favourite pasta dish?