By Lidia Bastianich, from The Silver Spoon
Farmers Note: this recipe is a little hard to follow, but it really tastes great. Just keep the sauté going and all will be well.
1 TBSP. sea salt 1 lb. sweet Italian sausage
1 large bulb fennel 5 TBSP. EV Olive oil
2 onions, halved and sliced ½ tsp chile flakes
½ cup tomato paste 1 lb. ziti
1 cup Parmesan or Romano cheese
- Bring a large pan of salted water to a boil.
- Remove the sausage from its’ casings and break up the meat.
- Slice the fennel lengthwise into ¼” slices. Separate the layers of fennel if they are attached at the base and cut into 2-inch long pieces.
- Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat, add sausage, and cook for 1-½ minutes.
- Push sausage to one side; add onions, stirring constantly until sizzling and wilting, then stir in with meat.
- Push the onion and sausage mixture to one side, and add fennel and cook for one minute until wilted then stir in with the sausage and onion mixture.
- Push the mixture aside. Sprinkle in half the salt, add chile flakes and toast for 30 seconds, and then stir them in.
- Move the mixture to the sides of the pan, add tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, for 1-2 minutes, then stir into sausage mixture.
- Add pasta to boiling water and cook until almost al dente
- Ladle 3 cups of salted, boiling water into the skillet, stir well, and bring to boil. Lower heat and simmer for about 6 minutes until fennel is soft but not mushy.
- Drain pasta and add to simmering sauce; finish cooking the pasta to al dente in the sausage, fennel, and onion mixture. Add more pasta water if sauce is too thick.
- Sprinkle with fennel fronds and toss. Remove from heat, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, and serve.