Tag Archives: fennel

Pappardelle w/ Sausages, Fennel & Ricotta Cheese

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It’s Fast Friday again and time for another fast and fabulous dinner suggestion. If you are anything like me, by the time Friday rolls around the last thing I want to do is cook a big meal yet we all still have to eat. The dishes featured in this series aren’t necessarily fancy but they bring together simple ingredients most people already have in their pantries or have easy access to and allow you to put a real meal on the table in between 30 and 45 minutes. Enjoy and if you have your own fast recipes you want to share, please send them my way and I will in turn share them with all of my readers.

I love this pasta dish from Williams Sonoma. Their version has you making homemade pasta which while not difficult, is too time consuming for a Fast Friday dish. I used fresh pasta from my local grocery store which when combined with ricotta cheese, fennel sausage and fresh sauteed fennel, produces a wonderfully satisfying dinner in a matter of minutes. I did, however, use my own fresh ricotta cheese (which I already had on hand). Not only is making your own ricotta easy, but when I use the wonderful fresh raw milk that I can buy from local Belgian farms, it simply tastes so good.

PAPPARDELLE w/ SAUSAGES, FENNEL & RICOTTA CHEESE

10 ounces fresh pappardelle or other long pasta

6 tablespoons olive oil

1 pound loose fennel sausage

2 fennel bulbs, cored and julienned

1/2 cup dry white wine

1 cup low sodium chicken broth

1/2 cup diced shallots

1/4 cup chopped garlic

2 teaspoons fresh minced thyme

1 cup fresh ricotta cheese

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Cook the pasta according to package directions, reserving 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid. Drain the pasta and set aside.

Warm the olive oil in a large saute pan set over medium high heat.

When the oil shimmers, add the sausage and fennel to the pan. Use a wooden spoon to break the sausage into small pieces.

Saute, stirring occasionally, until the sausage is lightly browned, 5 to 8 minutes.

Add the wine, shallots, garlic and thyme and cook until the the wine is reduced by half, about 3 minutes.

Add the chicken broth to the pan and continue to cook until the sauce is further reduced by three-quarters, about 3 to 5 minutes.

Add the cooked pappardelle to the pan along with the reserved cooking liquid. Toss well to coat.

Transfer the pasta to warmed serving dishes, sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese and top with dollops of the ricotta cheese. Diners can stir the warmed ricotta into their pasta making their own creamy sauce.

Serves 4

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Greek Shrimp w/ White Beans & Feta

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It’s Fast Friday again and time for another fast and fabulous dinner suggestion. If you are anything like me, by the time Friday rolls around the last thing I want to do is cook a big meal yet we all still have to eat. The dishes featured in this series aren’t necessarily fancy but they bring together simple ingredients most people already have in their pantries or have easy access to and allow you to put a real meal on the table in between 30 and 45 minutes. Enjoy and if you have your own fast recipes you want to share, please send them my way and I will in turn share them with all of my readers.

I love this fast and flavorful shrimp dish from Cooking Light. It is both light and satisfying and when paired with a crusty loaf of French bread for sopping up all of the tasty broth, it makes for a perfect end of the week dinner. It is so good that it takes me far away from the dreary winter weather we’ve been having and places me on a Greek island. One can dream……….

GREEK SHRIMP w/ WHITE BEANS & FETA

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 cup finely sliced fennel bulb
1/2 cup finely sliced onion
1 teaspoon minced fresh oregano
1 cup chopped plum tomato
3/4 cup unsalted chicken stock
1 (14.5-ounce) can unsalted cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 bay leaf
8 ounces medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 tablespoons finely minced fresh parsley
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • Heat a large saucepan over medium heat.
  • Add the oil, swirling to coat.
  • Add the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds or until fragrant.
  • Add the fennel, onion, and oregano; sauté 5 minutes or until lightly browned.
  • Add the tomato; cook 2 minutes.
  • Stir in the stock, beans, and bay leaf. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 10 minutes.
  • Gently stir in the shrimp and cook for 2 minutes or until shrimp pink.
  • Remove the bay leaf, stir in parsley and pepper.
  • Sprinkle feta over top.

Serves 4

Braised Fennel w/ Parmesan Crumbs

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Fennel.  It’s the often ignored or misunderstood vegetable with the subtle anise flavor.  It is readily available throughout markets in Europe but seems to be more difficult to find in the U.S.  People seem to either love it, hate it, or have never tried it. Personally, I love the licorice flavor of fennel. It is tangy and crisp when eaten raw but once it is cooked, the flavors mellow and become much more subtle.
This recipe, adapted from Cooking Light, is the perfect introduction to fennel for those who have never tried it yet will be sure to please the biggest fennel fans. Braised in a wine and broth mixture, the fennel emerges with a texture like butter. When topped with crunchy parmesan infused bread crumbs you have a dish that is both smooth and creamy yet crunchy. Best of all, this dish is easy to make. You can serve it on a platter family style or dress it up by filling individual ramekins with the fennel before adding the topping. I’ve served this dish as a side with barbecue chicken but it is also good with a simple grilled steak. Enjoy!
BRAISED FENNEL w/ PARMESAN CRUMBS
3 medium fennel bulbs, trimmed and halved lengthwise, fronds minced and reserved
4 tablespoons butter, divided
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup unsalted chicken stock
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
2 tablespoon Pernod
1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs
1 ounce Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, finely grated
  • Cut each fennel half into 3 wedges.
  • Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter and the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Add fennel; cook 7 minutes or until browned, stirring occasionally.
  • Add wine, stock, salt, 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper, and the thyme. Bring to a ­simmer.
  • Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes or until tender.
  • Increase heat to medium-high and add the Pernod to the pan.
  • Cook, uncovered, 1 minute or until liquid is slightly thickened.
  • Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in a small skillet over medium heat.
  • Add  the breadcrumbs; cook 3 minutes or until browned, stirring frequently.
  • Remove pan from heat; stir in minced fennel fronds, parmesan cheese and black pepper
  • Arrange fennel wedges on a platter and breadcrumb mixture evenly over fennel.

Serves 6

Sauteed Cod w/ Warm Fennel-Pepper Slaw

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It’s Fast Friday again and time for another fast and fabulous dinner suggestion. If you are anything like me, by the time Friday rolls around the last thing I want to do is cook a big meal yet we all still have to eat. The dishes featured in this series aren’t necessarily fancy but they bring together simple ingredients most people already have in their pantries or have easy access to and allow you to put a real meal on the table in between 30 and 45 minutes. Enjoy and if you have your own fast recipes you want to share, please send them my way and I will in turn share them with all of my readers.

Fresh fish is a wonderfully fast dinner option. On Fridays my local farmer’s market features several fish vendors who bring in their catch from the North Sea. Some mornings there are so many options that is can be overwhelming but I am gradually becoming more comfortable with recognizing the fish and as well as their French names. Cod, however, is a fish that I am quite familiar with and one that my entire family will eat since its firm white flesh isn’t “fishy”. This is a one-pan dish with the Cod being sauteed on top of the fennel and pepper slaw, ingredients that I was also able to pick up at the morning market.

SAUTEED COD w/ WARM FENNEL-PEPPER SLAW

2 4-ounce cod filets, or other firm white fish

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 fennel bulb, cored and thinly sliced, fronds reserved

1 small shallot, diced

1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and sliced into strips

1 yellow bell pepper, cored, seeded and sliced into strips

2 tablespoons Pernod

Salt & pepper

  • Season the cod on both sides with the salt and pepper then set aside on a plate.
  • Heat the oil in a large skillet set over medium-high heat.
  • When the oil shimmers, add in the fennel, shallot and both peppers.
  • Cook for 2 minutes then stir in the Pernod.
  • Push the vegetables to the side of the skillet creating an open space for the Cod.
  • Add the Cod to the pan and cook without disturbing for 4 to 5 minutes or until the fish begins to flake.
  • Flip the fish over and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, until the fish is firm.
  • Divide the fennel and pepper mixture amongst two plates.
  • Place the Cod on top of the vegetables then sprinkle with the reserved fennel fronds.
  • Serve immediately.

Serves 2

Pappardelle w/ Sausages, Fennel & Ricotta

photo 2-306

It’s Fast Friday again and time for another fast and fabulous dinner suggestion. If you are anything like me, by the time Friday rolls around the last thing I want to do is cook a big meal yet we all still have to eat. The dishes featured in this series aren’t necessarily fancy but they bring together simple ingredients most people already have in their pantries or have easy access to and allow you to put a real meal on the table in between 30 and 45 minutes. Enjoy and if you have your own fast recipes you want to share, please send them my way and I will in turn share them with all of my readers.

I love this pasta dish from Williams Sonoma. Their version has you making homemade pasta which while not difficult, is too time consuming for a Fast Friday dish. I used fresh pasta from my local grocery store which when combined with ricotta cheese, fennel sausage and fresh sauteed fennel, produces a wonderfully satisfying dinner in a matter of minutes. I did, however, use my own fresh ricotta cheese (which I already had on hand). Not only is making your own ricotta easy, but when I use the wonderful fresh raw milk that I can buy from local Belgian farms, it simply tastes so good.

PAPPARDELLE w/ SAUSAGES, FENNEL & RICOTTA CHEESE

10 ounces fresh pappardelle or other long pasta

6 tablespoons olive oil

1 pound loose fennel sausage

2 fennel bulbs, cored and julienned

1/2 cup dry white wine

1 cup low sodium chicken broth

1/2 cup diced shallots

1/4 cup chopped garlic

2 teaspoons fresh minced thyme

1 cup fresh ricotta cheese

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Cook the pasta according to package directions, reserving 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid. Drain the pasta and set aside.

Warm the olive oil in a large saute pan set over medium high heat.

When the oil shimmers, add the sausage and fennel to the pan. Use a wooden spoon to break the sausage into small pieces.

Saute, stirring occasionally, until the sausage is lightly browned, 5 to 8 minutes.

Add the wine, shallots, garlic and thyme and cook until the the wine is reduced by half, about 3 minutes.

Add the chicken broth to the pan and continue to cook until the sauce is further reduced by three-quarters, about 3 to 5 minutes.

Add the cooked pappardelle to the pan along with the reserved cooking liquid. Toss well to coat.

Transfer the pasta to warmed serving dishes, sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese and top with dollops of the ricotta cheese. Diners can stir the warmed ricotta into their pasta making their own creamy sauce.

Serves 4

Mussels Sarande

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It’s Fast Friday again and time for another fast and fabulous dinner suggestion. If you are anything like me, by the time Friday rolls around the last thing I want to do is cook a big meal yet we all still have to eat. The dishes featured in this series aren’t necessarily fancy but they bring together simple ingredients most people already have in their pantries or have easy access to and allow you to put a real meal on the table in between 30 and 45 minutes. Enjoy and if you have your own fast recipes you want to share, please send them my way and I will in turn share them with all of my readers.

I for one, am so excited that it is once again mussel season here in Belgium. I never realized that mussels have a “season” since I had always found them year around in American grocery stores. Here in Belgium, however, they are virtually impossible to find during the summer months. They may still appear on menus but in most restaurants you will be told that they aren’t available or aren’t any good during the summer months. But once late August rolls around, they are back and readily available.

Belgians love their mussels. Just about every restaurant menu features mussels and there are entire restaurants dedicated to serving nothing but mussels (and the requisite fried potatoes a.k.a. French fries of course). Mussels may be steamed in wine or beer–with vegetables or without and smothered in tomato, cheese, cream sauce or none at all. These are all nice of course but by far, my favorite version is one I first ate while traveling in southern Albania. Steamed in a mixture of white wine, fennel, onions and chopped tomatoes, the mussels always appeared on the menu as “mussels Sarande”, named after the largest port city in southern Albania. They are so good that I ordered them whenever they appeared on the menu. And now, living in a country that is renowned for their mussels, I find myself craving this Albanian version. So I now cook up pots of these tasty mussels myself. My version is a bit spicier than the traditional Albanian one but each time I sit down to eat them I am reminded of those hot and lazy summer evenings sitting on the shores of the Ionian Sea.

MUSSELS w/ FENNEL & SAUSAGE

2 pounds fresh wild mussels

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 large fennel bulb, sliced thin, fronds reserved

1 large onion, sliced thin

6 cloves garlic, minced

2 cups dry white wine

1 cup grape tomatoes, quartered

  • Rinse and clean mussels, discarding any that will not close.
  • Heat the olive oil in a large pot set over medium-high heat.
  • When the oil shimmers, add the fennel, onion and garlic and saute until soft, 4-5 minutes.
  • Raise the temperature to high, add the white wine and bring to a simmer.
  • When the wine simmers stir in the tomatoes and cook for an additional minute.
  • Reduce the temperature to medium high then add the rinsed mussels to the pot, cover and cook for 5 to 10 minutes, shaking occasionally, until the mussels open.
  • Discard any mussels that don’t open, sprinkle with the reserved fennel fronds and serve immediately.
Serves 2-4

Sausage & Fennel Baked Zucchini

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We are deep into the heart of zucchini season so here is an easy recipe to help you use up your stash of these green squashes. Growing up, baked zucchini was always a summer time staple on our dinner table since year after year my mother’s garden produced baseball bat sized squashes. By the time September rolled around I actually grew to dread seeing another baked zucchini on the table.

But times and tastes have changed and baked zucchini is making a regular appearance on my own family’s dinner table. This version has a Mediterranean flavor with mild Italian sausage and sautéed fennel complimenting the usual breadcrumbs and zucchini filling. I like to use round zucchini since I think they make for a prettier presentation but you can easily substitute any small zucchini that you like. Or if you must, use a baseball bat sized squash and simply cut it into smaller portions before stuffing.

SAUSAGE & FENNEL BAKED ZUCCHINI

6 small zucchini

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil

1 small onion, finely minced

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 fennel bulb, cored and diced

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 ppound mild Italian sausage, crumbled

1/2 cup diced tomatoes

1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs

1/2 cup finely grated parmesan cheese

  • Scrub the zucchini, trim the ends and pierce with a fork on all sides. Place the zucchini in a steamer basket.
  • Fill a large saucepan (larger enough to hold your steamer basket) with one inch of water and bring to a boil. When the water boils, add the zucchini and steam for 5 minutes. Remove from the water and all to cool.
  • When the zucchini is cool enough to handle, slice in squash in half, or slice off the tops if using round squash, and scoop out the insides leaving 1/4 inch of of flesh. Chop the scooped out filling and set aside.
  • Preheat the oven to 350.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large skillet set over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, and fennel and saute until soft, 7-9 minutes. Season with the salt and pepper.
  • Place the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil in a separate medium-sized skillet set over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the sausage and cook until it is no longer pink 5-7 minutes. Use a wooden spoon to crumble up any large pieces. When the sausage is cooked, drain it and add it to the vegetable mixture.
  • Add the tomatoes, breadcrumbs and the zucchini filling to the sausage and vegetables and stir well to combine. Adjust the seasonings if necessary.
  • Scoop the mixture back into the zucchini shells, heaping the filling to fill. (You may have extra filling which can be placed in a buttered casserole dish and baked alongside the zucchini in the oven).
  • Place the zucchini in an ungreased rimmed baking dish and sprinkle the parmesan cheese over the top of the zucchini.
  • Bake for 20-25 minute until the cheese has melted and the filling is heated through.

Serves 6

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