I’m making this every week at the moment. I get like that with some recipes. Every week for ages, almost obsessively. And I know why I do it with this particular recipe. It includes just so many of my favourite flavours and ingredients. 1. Pasta 2. Sausage 3. Spice 4. Fennel. I, at least, couldn’t ask for more.
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes
Ingredients for 4 to 6 Servings
250gr / 0.5 lb. (dry weight) of good quality strozzapreti pasta
2 x tbsp olive oil
475gr / 1 lb. sausages sliced into bite sized pieces. I like to use Italian sausages (which already contain some fennel) or German bratwurst. The reason being is that unlike a lot of UK sausages for example they don’t contain breadcrumbs.
2 x shallots, chopped finely
2 x large cloves of garlic, chopped finely
1 x tbsp of fennel seeds
½ tsp of chili flakes (more if you want more spice)
Juice of a lemon
2 x 400gr / 14 oz. tins of chopped tomatoes
400gr / 14 oz. fresh tomatoes, chopped roughly
2 x tsp of tomato purée
About 1 kg / 2.2 lb. fennel (this is roughly 2 x large bulbs worth), sliced into thin strips. Keep back the fennel tops for dressing if you wish. These feathery frons are almost herb-like in their flavour.
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
- Heat the oil in a non-stick pan. When it reaches a medium high heat, add the shallots and garlic and sauté for a minute.
- Add the sausages and let them brown, turning them when need be. This should take about 3 or 4 minutes. Then de-glaze with the lemon juice making sure you lift all the flavours off the pan and get them ready to start the base of your sauce.
- Add the fennel, chili and fennel seeds, add a little water (a splash, about 2 tablespoons) turn the heat down low and cover your pan with a close fitting lid. Allow this to braise slowly for about 7 minutes.
- Remove the lid, stir your fennel and sausage mix. Add the tomato purée, fresh tomatoes and tinned tomatoes. Add a some salt and pepper and stir everything together.
- Bring to a simmer, cover and cook for about 10 minutes. Check for seasoning before adding your pasta to the sauce.
- Once your pasta has cooked, take about 1/3 of a cup of the pasta water out of the pan and put it into your sauce.
- Drain the rest of the pasta and pour it into your sauce. Mix everything evenly together, check again for seasoning and serve. Dressed with the fennel frons.
Tips and Variations
- This works well with all sorts of pasta.
- Sprinkle a little parmesan over if you wish.
- This is a really good vegetarian pasta sauce without the sausages. Fennel gives great flavour.
- Also a great sauce to make in advance as it heats up easily and the flavour only intensifies with time.