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Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Spaghettini with Caramelised Fennel

The inspiration for this dish came to me after watching an episode of Nigel Slater's "Dish of the Day" TV series. I love the man! I find that him and I share the same approach to cooking, as in by not really following a recipe but letting the ideas come from the ingredients sitting in the fridge or in the cupboard, or from what looks good on the market stalls or supermarket shelves when we go shopping. That's how Nige and I roll :-) I watched him making fennel and feta linguine and a few days later made my own version for a Saturday lunch, since all I had left in the fridge at that point of the week was a fennel bulb. It was delicious: through the cooking process, the fennel loses his distinctive aniseed taste and all you are left with is a moreish sweetness.

INGREDIENTS (for two people)
  • 160 gr of spaghettini De Cecco n. 11 (or you can use normal spaghetti if you wish)
  • 1 fennel bulb
  • 1 medium white onion
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Cut off the fennel tops and reserve for later. Heat a good glug of olive oil in a large frying pan, on a low hob. Finely slice the fennel bulb and the onion, spread them out evenly in the pan and gently fry them until soft. At this point, turn the heat on a higher setting for a few minutes to allow the fennel and onion to caramelise; stir them often and be careful not to burn them, otherwise they will taste bitter and unpleasant, not sweet and delicious. Once they have acquired some colour, turn the heat off, season the vegetables with salt and pepper and leave them to rest. Cook the spaghettini according to the packet instructions, until al dente; drain them and reserve a couple of spoonfuls of the cooking liquid. Now return the pan with the fennel and onion to a medium heat and immediately toss the spaghetti and the reserved cooking liquid with the vegetables, mixing them well.  Drizzle with another little bit of extra-virgin olive oil and serve without delay, with the fennel tops and some grated Parmesan cheese scattered on the spaghetti.

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