Fabulous Fennel

I think fennel is just great, but my husband doesn't share my view. Normally, I'd just avoid it or save it for times when he's out of town or the like. But our CSA farm usually sends it once or twice a season and I'd much rather use it fresh when it arrives. But over the years, I've not been very successful in finding a way to prepare it that has everyone swooning.

Until now:

Imagine a hearty pasta dish swimming with roasted vegetables, crisp chunks of sausage, and melted cheese. Now I'm guessing you're not surprised I've been successful. Roasting vegetables brings out their sweetness and the selection chosen for this dish roast quickly. So, while they are in the oven, you can brown your sausage until it's tender and crispy, and boil your pasta until it has the perfect texture. You can even shred and crumble the cheeses if that hasn't already been done. Then, when it's all done, it's time to assemble them into a fantastic pasta dish that's hearty and warm and perfect for a cold autumn day.

This recipe was actually inspired by the suggestion of a friend. Well, as is my custom, it's a tweak on a suggestion. He thought roasted fennel and sausage might be a great combination on a pizza. And, while I agree, I happened to make a pasta dish before arriving at a pizza. No matter. I think the pizza idea is great too and I'm sure to have more fennel in another CSA box. And now I know how to make fennel and have the whole family swooning.

Sausage and Roasted Vegetable Pasta

  • 1 large fennel bulb, sliced thinly
  • 2-3 sweet peppers, seeded and sliced into strips (choose multiple colors for a pretty plate)
  • 1 medium onion, sliced into thin slivers
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
  • 2 T. canola oil
  • 1 lb. Italian sausage
  • 1 lb. penne pasta, cooked al dente
  • 1 c. grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 c. crumbled blue cheese

Preheat the oven to 400° F. Combine the fennel, peppers, onion, and garlic in an oven-proof baking dish. Toss with the canola oil and roast in the preheated oven for 20-30 minutes or until softened and slightly caramelized.

While the vegetables are roasting, brown the Italian sausage in a large nonstick skillet and prepare the pasta. When the pasta has been drained, toss it with the sausage and roasted vegetables and return the mixture to the nonstick skillet the sausage was browned in. Sprinkle with the cheeses and return to the oven for 10 minutes or until the cheese has melted and is bubbling a little. Serve warm.

  • Yields: 4-6 servings
  • Preparation Time: 45 minutes