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Breaking News: Wife claims fennel and sausage pasta as meal of champions, Husband abuses metaphor.

December 6, 2006

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Pasta. It’s the food of champions, isn’t it? Or is that Wheaties?

Well, then, besides chemically enhanced breakfast cereals that come in orange boxes, pasta may be one of the few fast foods that is actually good for you. (Atkins dieters please ignore this statement and resume your regular avoidance of bread and bread-like products. These are not the carbohydrates you seek.) And when my husband gets out his pasta press and opens the fridge, pasta is not only fast and delicious, it’s also fresh and healthy.

I’ve noted a few favorites of mine in his pasta repertoire (artichoke and tomato, special sauce, stuffed ravioli), but I have no objections to his adding more. Hence, I can recommend his fennel and sweet sausage pasta. This offering makes the list because it includes the necessary healthy bit (the fennel) and adds that extra tasty bit, too (the sweet Italian sausage).

Tossed with fresh fettuccini, this concoction makes a fresh, healthy and fast dinner that was ready when I walked through the door. And that, friends, is one of the main criteria for food that I can wholeheartedly endorse. “Good food now” is my motto, you may recall. And in the spirit of Queen’s stadium anthem (and Wheaties), pasta is the champion.

Backgrounder…
Ah, a second day of fennel and I’m loving it. Even more so now that my wife has said it’s a dish of champions. So I’m either a gold medalist or their coach and have earned myself a place on the Wheaties’ box. That makes me either the culinary Michael Jordan or Bela Karolyi holding an injured Kerri Strug. You can see that I have a healthy ego that places me in lofty company simply because I made dinner last night. You have to love my confidence and self-image Okay, so now that I’ve exhausted the Wheaties metaphor (or perhaps bludgeoned it to the center of the earth), let us get to the food.

Unlike yesterday’s recipe, I’ve embraced fennel’s pairing with meat, especially sausage. In my mind, sausage is built upon fennel seed. While not the same exact flavor as the fresh fennel used here, both the seed and bulb have that potent odor and light licorice flavor that gives many sausages a distinct character. In this dish, the pairing results in a strong flavor that is both sweet and savory.

Equally important to the dish’s flavor is that it’s easy to make. You can make this in about 25-30 min. It doesn’t take mastery of some culinary technique or a great deal of attention to get a very tasty result. So feel free to try this dish out while I decide if I’m going to go with a patriotic look or perhaps an action photo of me with a chef’s knife. Oh, and does anyone actually eat Wheaties?

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Fettuccini with Sausage and Fennel
2 lbs fettuccini
1/2 lbs. sweet Italian sausage
1 fennel bulb (sliced)
1 shallot (minced)
3 cloves garlic (minced)
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes (chopped)
1/4 cup grated parmesan
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. dry oregano
1 tsp. dry basil
1 tsp. fresh Italian parsley (optional)

Directions:
1. Set a large pot filled with salted water to boil.

2. In a large pan over medium high heat, add the olive oil. Once the oil shimmers, add the fennel, shallot, garlic and tomatoes. Liberally salt the vegetables. Continue at that heat for about a minute and then turn down to medium. Let cook for 10 min. Stir every few minutes.

2. Add the sausage to the now browning vegetables. Cook for another 10-12 min. Breakup the sausage as you cook.

3. Add the basil, oregano and parsley. Stir occasionally for the next 2 min. Turn down the heat to low and cover. Keep warm.

4. Cook the fettuccini until al dente. Add the pasta and parmesan to the pan with browned sausage and vegetables. Stir completely. Serve immediately. Enjoy!

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