spicy fennel pasta

I was sad to see Gourmet go. Apparently in a recession, folks don't want to seek out specialty ingredients and see ads for the life of leisure. Sure, many of the recipes were over the top -- that's what made them fun! But I got a lot of great simple recipes out of it as well. Sniff, sniff.

To finish off my Gourmet subscription, the editors are sending me Bon Appetit instead. So far, I'm not very impressed. When I go through clipping recipes from Gourmet, I have a big ol' stack of recipes that sound good to me. But so far, I can go through an entire Bon Appetit and not really be enticed to try any of it.

Having said all of that, there was this one recipe involving fennel that caught my eye. I modified it quite a bit -- perhaps making it worse than the original, who knows -- but we were pleased with the tasty meal.

Don't be scared of the fennel -- it's flavour is very mellow in this.

spicy fennel pasta
modified from Bon Appetit
serves 4

4-5 slices bacon
olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/8-1/4 teas dried red pepper flakes
1 fennel bulb, stalks trimmed, thinly sliced
3/4 C chicken broth
4 Tbs fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped, divided
juice from 1/2 lemon
spaghetti for 4
2/3 C freshly grated parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese, divided

Saute bacon in large skillet over medium heat until done. Transfer bacon to paper towel-lined plate. Crumble strips into bits when cool.

Drain off all but 1 Tbs of bacon grease. Add a swig of olive oil to the drippings in skillet and saute garlic and red pepper flakes until fragrant, about 1 min. Add fennel slices and cook until beginning to soften, about 5 mins. Mix in broth, lemon juice, and 2 Tbs of the parsley. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and cook until fennel is very tender, about 20 mins. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Meanwhile, cook pasta al dente. Reserve 1/2 C starchy cooking water, then drain pasta. Return pasta to pot.

Uncover fennel skillet and return to high heat. Cook until almost all liquid is absorbed, another 3-5 mins. Add pasta to fennel or fennel to pasta, whichever pot is bigger. Stir in a swig of olive oil, half of the grated cheese, parsley, and bacon bits. Toss pasta, adding a bit of cooking water if dry. Portion into pasta bowls and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Serve.

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