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Pasta with Fennel, Arugula, and Lemon

 Photo by Sara Forte

Photo by Sara Forte

Our community has been asking about creative ways to cook with your fennel so we tapped the unstoppable Sara Forte, of Sprouted Kitchen, to help us out. This unfussy and delicious pasta dish, adapted from Hugh Fearnley's River Cottage Veg, features fennel, arugula and lemon. It's subtle enough to be a side dish with a good piece of salmon or become a hearty dinner on top of some whole-grain spaghetti. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 1 Imperfect fennel bulb, fronds reserved
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil or grapeseed oil
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 oz pasta (papparadelle, linguine, spaghetti etc.)
  • 1/4 c creme fraiche, to taste
  • Zest of one large lemon, juice reserved
  • 3-4 good handfuls of arugula
  • 1/4 c reserved pasta water
  • Sea salt and pepper
  • Parmesan or hard goat cheese, to finish

Instructions:

  1. Bring a large pot of liberally salted water to a boil. 
  2. Cut the fennel in half lengthwise. Remove the tough core and slice it into 1/4'' wedges. Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium high heat. Add the fennel, give it a stir and let it cook, undisturbed (that's how you get the nice brown bits) for 5 minutes. Give it a stir, turn the heat down to medium, add the garlic, a pinch of salt and another splash of oil if the pan looks dry. Start cooking the pasta.
  3. To the fennel, add the creme fraiche, lemon zest and stir to coat. Add the arugula and give it another toss.
  4. Drain the pasta, reserving 1/4-1/2 cup of the pasta water. Add the noodles to the creamy fennel pan and toss to coat, adding a pinch or two of salt, pepper, squeeze of lemon juice and pasta water as needed.
  5. Serve each portion with a generous grate of the parmesan and a few fennel fronds. 

Recipe Variatons: 

To intensify the sweet fennel flavor, try sautéing the fennel with a few teaspoons of fennel seeds. Fennel pairs exceptionally well with chili flakes, so if you like a little heat, add some of those, too! If you eat meat this recipe is great with Italian sausage or pancetta. If you don't eat meat but just want a bit more of a savory "oompf," try adding a few sun-dried tomatoes or your favorite seasonal mushrooms to the sau·té pan!