Fennel is probably one of the most underrated vegetables, in my humble opinion. Fennel seeds have been used in Indian cuisine for a really long time but I discovered fennel bulbs only after I moved to the US (thank you, Ina Garten). The first time, I simply roasted fennel slices with olive oil, salt and pepper in the oven and it was love at first bite. I mean, I could write ballads about fennel. I’ve always been surprised about how every time I buy fennel at my grocery store, the cashier almost always asks me “what is this”. I am so tempted every time to go off on a whim and tell him/her all that you can do with fennel. But I don’t..because I don’t want to be called a crazy fennel lady. But seriously, there’s so much you could do with it. Fennel is versatile. You can eat it raw, put it in salads, roast it, saute it, my favourite is roasted leek and fennel soup. Leeks and fennel are a match made in culinary heaven!
But this weekend, we weren’t in a mood for soup. So it was sauteed leek and fennel pasta. Here’s how I made it.
- 1 large fennel bulb top trimmed and sliced into thin slices
- 2 leeks cleaned and chopped
- 3-4 cloves garlic we love garlic so we add a lot of it...enough to keep an army of vampires away, but you go ahead and adjust according to your taste
- lbs pasta I haven't said how much because I personally never follow the amount of pasta they put on recipes. 12 oz of spaghetti, 2lbs of penne...what is that? My measure is two handfuls per person. It works perfectly every time! - I used penne.
- 1 cup store bought marinara sauce
- 1 pinch red chilli flakes
- salt and pepper to taste
- freshly grated parmesan cheese
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- Cook pasta in boiling, salted water till it is al dente.
- Reserve some of the cooking liquid.
- Drain and set aside.
- Heat olive oil in a skillet.
- When it shimmers, add the leeks and the garlic and a pinch of salt.
- Saute till leeks are tender.
- Add fennel slices and chili flakes and another pinch of salt.
- Saute till fennel is cooked through.
- Add marinara sauce and some of the cooking liquid.
- Add the rest of the salt and pepper.
- Add the drained pasta and let it cook in the sauce for a couple of minutes.
- Mix in some parmesan cheese and serve.
- Top it with some extra freshly grated parmesan cheese. You can never have too much cheese 🙂