Thursday, December 22, 2011

Pasta with Sausage and Fennel

Ready for a hardy pasta dish? Look no further. I tried a similar dish a few years back at a Christmas Lunch, when I ordered I wasn't sure what to expect but I never forgot about it and wanted to give it a try. I've made this for a few and a group and it turned out yummy each time. You could do a fair amount ahead of time too and at the holidays who doesn't want  an easy, delicious meal to feed a crowd. Even my 7 year nephew asked for seconds.*

*To be fair, he is a little carnivore. It wasn't a stretch to get him to eat this dish. I had him at Sausage. To him a Sausage means Fenway Park. Fenway Park is all that is good in the world and if sausage is good enough to eat at Fenway, it's good enough to eat anywhere. 

So lets get started. Oh and this dish has some wine in it too, so you will be able to drink while cooking.  I love multitasking!

Sausage & Fennel Pasta
Serves 4-6

1 bunch of Fennel
1 medium Onion
1/4 Tsp. Red Pepper Flakes
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 Lb. Seasoned Sausage Meat (If you only have the links available, remove the meat from the casings)
1 1/2 C. White Wine
2 1/2 Marinara Sauce (or your favorite sauce)
1/2 C. Fresh Tomatoes, diced
1/4 Basil, Chopped or sliced into ribbons
1/4 Stick of Butter
1Lb. of Pasta
Parmesan Cheese

Trim and clean the fennel bulb, slice into rings and then half or quarter the rings.  You will get about 2 C. or so.   A little over is fine.

Cut onion in half and make thin slices. Use the whole onion. You will get any where from 1 1/2 C to 2 C. Again a little over is fine.

This is a one skillet meal so pick something a little bit larger to allow all the veggies, sausage and pasta to be mixed before serving.

In a skillet over medium heat toss the olive oil, fennel, red pepper flakes and onions in the pan and cook until tender.

When the veggies are done, remove from the skillet and set aside.

Add your sausage meat to the skillet and cook until no pink appears. It should be pretty crumbled when it's finished.

When the sausage is cooked thru add white wine to the sausage meat and let cook over medium heat. Let the wine reduce a bit and then add 2 C. of marinara to the sausage/wine mix.

This is a perfect time to start cooking your pasta.

Let the wine/sauce cook for about 10 min. and then add the cooked fennel/onion mix back to the pan. This is also a perfect time to add your 1/4 stick of butter to the skillet. Let all the buttery goodness melt in with the rest of the gang.

When the pasta is done or Al dente which ever you prefer, strain and add to the skillet.

Toss and add remaining 1/2 C. of Marinara, diced tomatoes and basil.

Keep on low heat while mixing and serve up and sprinkle with some Parmesan.

Serve and Enjoy and don't forget to kiss the cook!

Here are your Veggies & a little bit of spice.
Cook the fennel and onion until tender and set aside.
I have a picture of the raw sausage meat but it isn't too appetizing so we will just cut to the picture of the sausage crumbled up and ready to take a swim in some wine.  (The sausage was already taking a swim in the wine at this point but for continuity here is a picture of the sausage meat. Imagine it is before the wine)
Wine. Yay!
Wine is reduced. Time to add your sauce. Give it a good stir.
Next add in your diced tomatoes and basil. Give that a good stir too. You can add the butter at this point too. Let it melt into the mix. 
Here is the mix all together, just waiting on the pasta.
Add in your cooked pasta and toss.
Add the reserved 1/2 cup of sauce and give one last stir.  Prep your bowls and get ready to eat.
Ta da! The finished product. Give a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese or add some shavings for a dramatic presentation ;)
Dig in and enjoy!



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