Sweet roasted fennel, paired with a subtle bite of lemon and a salty pangrattao. All served with a rich creamy linguine. This is the perfect mid-week meal, but it is beautiful enough for company, especially as it is vegetarian! And packed with so much flavour!
Even if fennel isn’t your thing, once you have tried this you will be a convert.
Every week I wax on about my love of roasted veg!!!! So you are probably sick of hearing it 😉 But hey! What can I say, I love coffee, wine, cheese and roasted veg! I might even have to change my bio to reflect that!
Today though I am not sharing a roasted veg side dish. Today we are taking roasted veg as a main course. A delicious vegetarian main course! And one of my favourite foods in the whole world. Pasta!!!
Pasta with roasted fennel and lemon!!! Serious this is so good. When roasted, fennel takes on a much milder sweeter flavour, there is still a hint of liquorice but it is subtle and mellow. Paired with lemon and plenty of fresh oregano it is sweet and delicious.
The pasta is finished with a little cream some ground fennel and plenty of black pepper. But the crowning glory of this dish, the thing that brings it all together is the pangrattato. A wonderful invention that is also called poor mans parmesan. The idea being that parmesan is expensive but pangrattato which is made with breadcrumbs is cheap, but when cooked with a little butter and salt adds a great depth to pasta and you don’t miss the parmesan.
I love pangrattato, I mean what is not to love, it is buttery, crunchy, salty and costs cents to make!!!! I made a parsley pangrattao when I made my Vegemite pasta last year. If you didn’t see my homage to my adopted country and my first food love, then check out the post here.
The fennel takes about 30 minutes to roast, but you can prepare it in advance and just heat it through when you make the sauce. I have suggested 2 fennel bulbs in the recipe, but that is working on the average sized fennel that you see in supermarkets. If you shop at the farmers market or grow your own, you will find they are generally much bigger and you will probably only need one bulb. (Next time I make this I will weigh my fennel and add some measurements to the recipe!!!)
I have suggested using panko breadcrumbs as they are easy, but if you have some stale bread knocking about then embrace your inner Italian and make your own crumb. When cooking off the breadcrumbs you want them to be a nice golden colour, but watch them carefully as they can burn. Once they get to the colour you want, tip them into a bowl, don’t leave them in the frying pan as they will continue to crisp with the residual heat. That is the voice of experience talking!!! 😉 The other thing is make sure you salt your pangrattato. It is meant to taste a little too salty before you add it to the pasta, that way it perfectly seasons your dish!
p.s If you love pasta as much as I do then you might want to check out my pasta recipe collection 🙂
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Pasta with Roasted Fennel and Lemon
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 fennel bulbs
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 garlic clove
- 2 shallots
- 1 tbsp fresh oregano (or 1 tsp dried)
- 1 lemon
- 1/4 cup panko breadcrumb
- 400 g /14oz linguine
- 1/4 cup cream
- pinch ground fennel
- Salt and Pepper
Preheat the oven to 190ºC/375 º F.
Pick off the fennel fronds (they make a great garnish) and the cut off and discard the fennel stems.
Cut the fennel in half, then quarters and cut each quarter in half lengthways. Leaving you with 8 wedges of fennel per bulb.
Arrange the fennel slices in a single layer in a large baking dish and then drizzle with the 2 tablespoons of oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and then turn them over a couple of times to ensure they are well covered.
Bake for 20 minutes until soft and caramelised. Set aside
Peel and finely chop the garlic and shallots.
Place the butter in a cold frying pan, melt gently then add the garlic and shallots, cook over a low eat until soft. Add in the fresh oregano, the zest of the lemon and breadcrumbs.
Stir the mixture well and cook until the breadcrumbs are crispy and golden.
Season generous with salt and pepper and then tip the pangrattato mixture into a small bowl (see notes)
Place a pan of water over a high heat and once it comes to the boil, salt it generously and add your linguine. Give it a stir to separate the strands and set your timer (set it for a minute less than the packet suggests)
Pour your cream into the frying pan, sprinkle over the ground fennel and season the cream with salt and pepper. Once hot, add in the caramelised fennel and set over a low heat.
Once the timer goes, check your pasta. It should be just al dente. (If you like it cooked more give it another minute)
Take a 1/4 cup of the pasta water and add it to your sauce, then drain the pasta (reserve another 1/2 cup of the water).
Add the linguine to the sauce and turn to coat. Add more pasta water if needed.
Serve with a wedge of lemon, a good sprinkling of the pangrattato and a few of the fennel fronds (or some fresh oregano)
Remove the breadcrumbs from the pan as soon as they are ready, otherwise the residual heat will burn the crumb (Plus then you can use the same pan for the sauce! Less washing up - WINNER!!!)
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