8 servings (serving size: about 1 3/4 cups)

By moving ingredients to one side and adding a new ingredient in the open space, each can be sautéed in direct contact with the pan to achieve the right browning, instead of steaming in the mass of ingredients. Keep more than two cups of the pasta cooking water to adjust the sauce. If the pasta appears dry, ladle in more cooking water; if it is soupy, increase the heat to cook it rapidly and thicken the sauce.

How to Make It

Step 1

Trim fennel, reserving fronds and bulb. Cut fennel bulb in half lengthwise; cut each bulb half lengthwise into (1/4-inch-thick) slices. Cut bulb slices into 2-inch-long pieces. Chop fennel fronds to measure 1/3 cup.

Step 2

Bring 6 quarts water and 2 teaspoons of salt to a boil in a large stockpot. Stir in pasta; partially cover, and return to a boil, stirring frequently. Cook 8 minutes or until the pasta is almost al dente, stirring occasionally. Drain pasta in a colander over a bowl, reserving 2 cups cooking water.

Step 3

While pasta cooks, heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Remove sausage from casings. Add sausage to Dutch oven; cook 2 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring to crumble. Push sausage to one side of pan. Add onion to open space in pan; cook 1 minute or until onion begins to soften. Stir onion into sausage. Push onion mixture to one side of the pan. Add fennel bulb to open space in pan; cook 1 minute or until fennel begins to soften. Stir fennel into onion mixture. Stir in pepper and 1/4 teaspoon salt; cook 1 minute. Move the sausage and fennel mixture to outside edges of pan, leaving an open space in center. Add 1/4 cup tomato paste to open space in pan; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir tomato paste into fennel mixture.

Step 4

Add reserved 2 cups cooking water to pan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 6 minutes or until fennel is tender. Add fennel fronds and pasta; cook 2 minutes or until pasta is al dente, tossing to combine. Remove from heat; stir in cheese. Serve immediately.

La Cucina di Lidia (Lidia's Italian Kitchen), Lidia's Italian-American Kitchen, Lidia's Family Table; Felidia, Becco, Esca, New York City; Lidia's Kansas City; Lidia's Pittsburgh

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Ratings & Reviews

Amhaasy81's Review

September 09, 2012
Got this recipe from my large cooking light cookbook, but with my items in storage I needed to double check the recipe. we use to make it quite often, it's a classic in our house. Good subtle fennel flavor, easy weeknight meal, and a great recipe to have veggies shine in a pasta dish. Watch how much pasta water you put back in, you don't want it watery.

mandofan's Review

January 31, 2012
Good recipe. Only take an hour total. Halving it makes for 3-4 filling servings.

grickwilson's Review

July 24, 2011
My wife and I love this dish. It has become the "pasta dish" that my adult children ask me to make when they come to visit. Thanks! http://www.flickr.com/photos/laurelnow/3226832612/ Rick Wilson - Laurel MD

barbi3142's Review

March 29, 2010
This is a very good recipe. We love fennel, so when ever I can find bulbs in the grocery I have to buy them. This was quite easy, and very flavorful. I used whole wheat pasta and it was fantastic. Will consider serving for company.

hijparker's Review

July 18, 2009
This is one of our favorites. It is ha great flavor and is easy to make. Occasionally, I try to make it in a regular pan and always find it too cramped. Use the dutch oven if you have one!

Biscotti's Review

March 28, 2009
Our Cooking Club made this. Talk about underwhelming. Virtually no sauce (watery and not any coverage on the pasta). The taste was bland; although, I will concede that we had to use turkey sausage, due to one of our members being Jewish. Turkey sausage, imho, is no substitute for the real thing!

Nydiva's Review

February 26, 2009
I can't stop making (and eating) this recipe. I start salivating thinking of it. This has a permanent place of honor in my repertoire.

ginnyranly's Review

January 12, 2009
Really good, satisfying meal. I made with GimmeLean "sausage". Came together really quickly. I added more crushed red pepper to my dish at the table, but all in all a great recipe.