Cheesy, Garlicky Roasted Fennel Pasta

March 31, 2021
5 Ratings
Photo by Rocky Luten. Prop Stylist: Veronica Olson. Food Stylist: Samantha Seneviratne.
  • Prep time 10 minutes
  • Cook time 45 minutes
  • Serves 4 to 6
Author Notes

Meet the perfect dish to help you wave goodbye to winter and (finally!) welcome spring: a roasted fennel pasta with fragrant garlic, Kerrygold’s Blarney Castle cheese, and fresh ricotta. Roasting both the fennel and the garlic mellows their sharp, bold flavors—rounding the edges into something fuller and richer, which complements the creaminess of the ricotta beautifully.

Adding a pinch of red pepper flakes brings a tiny bit of heat to cut the richness, and the Blarney Castle (a mild and velvety Gouda-style cheese) is the perfect finishing touch—don’t skip it, as it gives a savory element to the dish that takes it all up a notch. —Posie (Harwood) Brien

Test Kitchen Notes

This recipe is shared in partnership with Kerrygold. —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 1 head garlic
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 small fennel bulbs
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound dried pasta (bucatini or linguine is nice)
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1/2 cup fresh ricotta cheese
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1/2 cup Kerrygold Blarney Castle Cheese, grated
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
  2. Slice about 1/4-inch off the top of the head of garlic (unpeeled), enough to see the cloves inside. Drizzle with 1 teaspoon of olive oil and wrap tightly in foil.
  3. Slice the leafy fronds off the fennel and chop them roughly, then set aside, reserving for later. Thinly slice the rest of the fennel, arrange it on a baking sheet, and drizzle with the remaining olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Place the foil-wrapped garlic on the corner of the baking sheet and bake for about 40 minutes, or until the fennel is soft and beginning to brown on the edges. Remove from the oven and let cool.
  4. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the pasta and cook until just shy of al dente.
  5. While the pasta cooks, add the wine to a large, high-sided skillet and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until reduced slightly. Turn off the heat and have a set of tongs at the ready.
  6. Mix together the ricotta and lemon juice in a small bowl. Once the roasted garlic is ready and cool enough to handle, squeeze the bottom of the garlic gently—the roasted cloves should pop out easily. Add the roasted garlic to the ricotta mixture and mash to combine (it doesn’t need to be completely smooth but the cloves should be mostly mashed). Set aside.
  7. As soon as the pasta is ready, turn off the burner and use tongs to transfer the pasta to your waiting skillet with the wine. (If you’re not using a long pasta like bucatini, you’ll need to strain the pasta and pour it back into the skillet. But with long pasta, just skipping the straining step is much easier!) Don’t worry about slopping some water in with the pasta—that’ll just make your sauce more glossy.
  8. Add the roasted fennel, grated cheese, and red pepper flakes (if using) to your hot pasta and cook over medium heat for 1 to 2 minutes, until the cheese begins to melt.
  9. Remove from the heat and dollop the garlicky ricotta mixture over the top in large spoonfuls, but don’t stir. (This clever trick comes from Smitten Kitchen; it means you find big mouthfuls of ricotta now and again in your pasta!)
  10. Divide the pasta among bowls and top with the reserved chopped fresh fennel fronds.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • arbequina
  • AmyJ

2 Reviews

arbequina July 7, 2022
This is a keeper -- and super easy! Like the previous reviewer (and in grand Food52 tradition I suppose..) I did make a couple modifications: no Kerrygold cheese so subbed parm to no ill effect. Added pine nuts for a little extra texture. Will definitely make this one again.
AmyJ October 4, 2021
This was delicious. I added lemon zest to the ricotta for a little more lemon flavor; I didn’t have the Blarney cheese so I used Parmesan and I had some left over roasted pumpkin so I threw that in as well. I’m looking forward to making this again.