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Author Notes: Vermicelli with Fennel Sauce. In Italy, fennel is used as a vegetable (in fact, Italians are the largest consumers of fennel in the world), and is revered for its digestive properties, as well as other health-promoting properties (in ancient Rome, it was even considered an aphrodisiac). This recipe originally appeared in my cookbook, "What, No Meat? Traditional Italian Cooking the Vegetarian Way." —MizChef
- 1 pound vermicelli
- 1 tablespoon salt + 2 teaspoons
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1 cup sliced scallions
- 2 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1 cup thinly sliced fresh fennel
- 1 pound fresh plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
- 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
- 1 teaspoon crushed fennel seeds (see TIP)
- 6 large fresh basil leaves
- 2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh sage or 1 teaspoon dried sage
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Grated parmigiano or pecorino romano Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the vermicelli and 1 tablespoon of the salt and cook, stirring often, until it is al dente, about 6 to 8 minutes.
- Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large pan. Add the scallions and sauté until soft and translucent, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté until it is soft, about 2 to 3 minutes. Toss in the fresh fennel and sauté, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and cook about 5 minutes. Add the peas, fennel seeds, basil, parsley, sage, remaining salt, pepper, and ½ cup water; stir and continue cooking until the liquid is reduced, about 6 to 8 minutes. Simmer on low until the pasta is cooked.
- When the vermicelli is cooked, drain well and transfer it to a serving bowl. Pour the fennel sauce over it and mix well.
- OPTIONAL: Sprinkle Grated parmigiano or pecorino romano on top. Use the fennel leaves for garnish.
- TIP: To crush the fennel seeds, use a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder on a coarse setting. Or, place the seeds on a cutting board, lay the blade of a knife flat down on the seeds and press firmly with your hand. Alternatively, you can roll a rolling pin or other heavy object over them. The seeds do not have to be completely pulverized.
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Fennel