Roasted fennel, onions make plain pasta a meal

Holiday feasting, followed by a week away from home, revealed an all-but-bare refrigerator upon our return.

The plan all along, of course, was to avoid leaving a refrigerator full of food that would only have to be discarded. Putting off my grocery shopping for a couple of days, however, tasked me to pull together meals with scarce produce and plain pantry staples.

Celery, carrot, onion and cabbage we had. Those are all well and good for soup and coleslaw. But as usual, I was craving pasta, and not just the kids’ macaroni and cheese.

I’ve blogged plenty about pantry-staple pasta dishes beyond cacio e pepe. The problem with recipes assembled solely with such pantry goods as sun-dried tomatoes, roasted and jarred red peppers, olives, capers and even tuna, is that they can come off as one-note. Flat. In dire need of some freshness.

Enter fennel. Mentioned in a previous post, this bulb vegetable inspired my riff on pasta puttanesca a couple of years back. Sautéed, the slightly sweet fennel supports stronger flavors of smoked albacore and Kalamata olives in a light tomato sauce. And while fennel isn’t on everyone’s shopping list of staples, I had a bulb left over from our Christmas bouillabaisse.

Roasting and braising also bring out fennel’s sweetness and turns the dense, crunchy root silky soft. It would be lovely with a counterpoint of caramelized onions paired with whatever short pasta shape, such as penne, that’s in the pantry.

Tribune News Service photo

Penne With Roasted Fennel and Onions

2 fennel bulbs, tall stalks and leaves discarded, bulb cut in half lengthwise and cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices

2 medium yellow onions, peeled, cut in half and sliced 1/4-inch thick

1 large garlic clove, pressed or peeled and finely minced

1/2 cup olive oil

1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more to taste

1/2 pound dry penne

2 tablespoons fresh parsley leaves

Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

Preheat oven to 450 F.

Combine the fennel, onion, garlic and oil in large roasting pan. Season with the salt to taste; toss mixture to coat fennel and onion with oil. Spread mixture in an even layer in pan. Roast on topmost rack in preheated oven, stirring occasionally, until fennel and onions are just beginning to brown, for 20 to 25 minutes. Be careful not to overcook; fennel and onion will quickly go from brown to burned.

While vegetables are roasting, bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil over high heat. Add the tablespoon of salt and the penne. Cook, stirring occasionally, until pasta is tender but firm, al dente, for 7 to 10 minutes. Drain. Transfer to a large, preheated serving bowl. Add roasted fennel and onion and the parsley; toss well. Serve with the grated Parmesan.

Makes 4 servings.

Recipe from “Pasta Verde,” by Judith Barrett.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

  • Categories

  • Archives