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Penne with Sausage, Fennel, and Pecorino

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Serves 4

  • by David Bonom from Fine Cooking
    Issue 119

This hearty fall pasta gets a double dose of fennel flavor, from both fresh fennel and fennel seed in the sausage.

  • Kosher salt
  • 4 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 12 oz. sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 2 medium yellow onions, halved and thinly sliced (about 3 cups)
  • 1 large fennel bulb (about 1-1/2 lb.), halved, cored, and thinly sliced crosswise (about 4 cups)
  • 2 Tbs. chopped fresh sage
  • 1 cup lower-salt chicken broth
  • 10 oz. dried penne
  • 1 oz. finely grated Pecorino Romano (1 cup using a rasp grater); more for serving
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil over high heat. Meanwhile, heat 2 Tbs. of the oil in a heavy-duty 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and cook, stirring and breaking it up into smaller pieces with the edge of a slotted metal spoon, until browned and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Use the spoon to transfer the sausage to a paper-towel lined plate and pour off any fat left in the skillet.

Set the skillet over medium-high heat and add the remaining 2 Tbs. oil and the onion.Cook, stirring occasionally, until it softens and begins to brown, about 10 minutes. Stir in the fennel, sage, and 1/4 tsp. salt. Lower the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until the fennel is softened and the onion is golden, about 5 minutes. Add the cooked sausage and chicken broth and cook, stirring, until heated through, about 2 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the penne in the boiling water, stirring occasionally, until cooked through, 10 to 11 minutes. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water and drain the pasta in a colander. Return the pasta to the pot over medium-high heat and stir in the sausage mixture until well combined. Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese, 1/4 tsp. pepper, and enough reserved pasta water to moisten, if necessary. Distribute among 4 bowls and sprinkle with additional cheese.

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 640; Fat (g): 30; Fat Calories (kcal): 270; Saturated Fat (g): 8; Protein (g): 23; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 16; Carbohydrates (g): 70; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 3.5; Sodium (mg): 1030; Cholesterol (mg): 30; Fiber (g): 8;

Photo: Scott Phillips

Perfect pasta recipe for Sunday night dinner. Wife loved the combination of everything even though she tends to shy away from heavy carb foods..

This pasta is really delicious. Fennel adds a wonderful flavor to the dish. It's a keeper.

When a six year-old says that a dish is delicious after her first bite, you know you're on to something good. She was right; this is delicious. You can read my full review at Taking On Magazines One Recipe At A Time: http://bit.ly/Qhl2VJ

A welcome change from red sauce, pesto, or creamy sauces, this robust pasta was a big hit with the family. I had a little eggplant that needed to be cooked or tossed, so I threw it in with the onions-- it was great. The sausage and browned vegetables, plus the cheese on top make for big flavor and it's quite fast to make.

Didn't expect this to be so good but Wow! I did add a wee bit of cream cheese at the end but that's all I changed. The fennel added lovely sweetness to the salty sausage. I topped the finished product with chopped fennel fronds for color. Thank you!

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