Add this to the roster. You know, that roster of quick, yummy dishes you can pull together with little notice and minimal effort. The bit of chile warmed me right up and the browned garlic helped bring out the sweetness at the heart of fennel.
Double fennel pasta (with browned garlic)
1/2 pound spaghetti or other long noodles (that’s angel hair above because that’s what was in the cupboard)
2 Tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon red chile flakes or 1 small red or green chile, minced
1 bulb fennel, halved and thinly sliced
1 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed (use a mortar and pestle or bash with the bottom of a frying pan)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup white wine or broth
1/4 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
Cheese for the top
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta until tender to the bite, reserve 1 cup of the cooking liquid before you drain the noodles.
* Save time by cooking the “sauce” while the pasta cooks; save dishes by cooking the sauce in the pasta pot after you’ve drained the noodles. *
Heat the oil in a large frying or saute pan or the pasta pot over medium high heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until it just starts to turn golden and brown at the edges. Add chile flakes or fresh chile, stir to combine. Add fennel, fennel seeds, and salt and cook, stirring, until fennel softens a bit, about 2 minutes. Add wine or broth, cover, reduce heat to medium low, and cook until fennel is quite tender, about 5 minutes.
Add parsley, stir to combine. Add drained pasta and reserved pasta liquid, stir to combine, increase heat back to medium high, and cook until most of the liquid is absorbed/evaporated and all the flavors combine, 2 to 3 minutes.
Serve with plenty of parmesan, pecorino, or whatever hard cheese you like on top of your pasta. Some people may also want freshly ground black pepper. Indulge them.