If you like exploring different ways to make pasta, you’re gonna love this one – Italian sausage, fennel, onions, garlic and crushed tomatoes are combined with a ridged pasta (think rotini, fusilli, penne, etc. but not the “regular” long skinny noodles). The best part: it’s ready in 30 minutes. Great for a weeknight dinner that will be sure to impress.
1 fennel bulb, including fronds (the green leafy part)
1 small yellow onion
2 small cloves garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ pound Italian sausage (ground or you can use 2-3 links, casing removed)
¼ cup dry white wine (I use a pinot grigio)
1 can (14 ounce) diced or chopped tomatoes
½ pound dry pasta (rotini, fusilli, penne, any kind with ridges works best)
Salt and pepper
¼ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
Add olive oil to a large skillet on medium heat.
Chop fennel and onion into fine slices. Chop and reserve some of the fennel fronds for garnish. Add fennel and onion to skillet and cook for 3 minutes.
Mince the garlic and add to skillet with fennel and onions; cook additional 2 minutes.
Add the Italian sausage and break into pieces with a wooden spoon. Cook 5-6 minutes or until sausage is cooked through.
While sausage is cooking, heat water in medium saucepan until boiling, then add pasta and cook according to directions (usually 5-8 minutes).
Add the white wine; scrape bottom of pan with wooden spoon and let simmer for 1 minute. Add the canned tomatoes, including juice. Add salt and pepper to taste. Continue to simmer another 3 minutes.
Drain pasta then add to skillet. Stir with wooden spoon until pasta is evenly coated, turn off heat, and let simmer for 2 – 3 minutes.
To serve: Top pasta with grated parmesan cheese and fennel fronds.
If you want a spicier flavor, use hot Italian sausage or add a few crushed red pepper flakes.
If you want a stronger fennel flavor, add ½ teaspoon fennel seeds after you add the garlic.
I’ve learned it’s always better to use “real” wine, i.e. something you would be willing to drink, instead of the inexpensive cooking wine you can buy at the store. Splash some pinot grigio in the sauce and you have the rest of the bottle to serve with dinner!