Sausage and fennel pasta bake

Pasta bakeRecently I’ve been experimenting with adding fennel to my dishes. I’d seen it in the shops countless times, but never really knew what to do with it. Finally, I decided to just buy some and find out what happened. This is a nice, comforting dish for autumn/winter and has the added bonus of being quick and easy enough to make in the evening after a long day at work. This amount serves 3-4 (me, Jan plus some leftovers for me to take to work for lunch, but Jan eats more than I do – it would be enough for 4 of me).

Ingredients:
Olive oil for frying
1 clove garlic
500g pork sausages (Germany residents: I would normally buy “grobe Bratwurst” but the supermarket didn’t have those this time)
1 fennel bulb
Any small pasta (I like penne, but fusilli or farfalle would also work)
1 400g tin of tomatoes
Cheese (one with a fairly strong taste, like Cheddar or BergkΓ€se)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 200Β°C (roughly 390Β°F). Heat some olive oil in a pan.

2. While the olive oil is heating, chop the sausages into bite-sized chunks. Once the oil is hot, crush in the garlic clove and fry for about a minute before adding the sausages.

Sausages and garlic
Sausages and garlic

3. While the sausages are cooking (stir them once in a while so they cook on all sides), chop the fennel into chunks. Once the sausages are mostly brown, add the fennel to the pan. Stir occasionally.

Add the fennel
Add the fennel

4. Meanwhile, cook the pasta until it’s just short of being ready (with mine, that took 8 minutes). Drain the pasta then add it to the frying pan with the sausages/fennel.

5. Add a tin of tomatoes to the frying pan, stir everything together and season to taste with salt and pepper, then pour the entire mixture into an oven-proof bowl.

6. Grate cheese all over the top – how much is up to you – and place in the oven until the cheese has all melted. This will take about 20-30 minutes, depending on your oven and exactly how melted you like your cheese.

And there you have it – meaty, cheesy, comforting goodness… and it’s even pretty healthy (as long as you didn’t go too overboard on the cheese). If you wanted, you could add extra vegetables (leek might be nice), replace the sausages with a tin of tuna or, for a vegetarian version, use aubergine or tofu in place of the sausages. It’s entirely up to you!

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19 thoughts on “Sausage and fennel pasta bake

    1. The first time I had it was with fish, but as that was the only time I’d tried it up to now I had no particular associations.

      We had it in mince & veg the other day (what the Scottish call “stovies”). It worked really well.

    1. I think most people know fennel better in the form of seeds. You know when you go to an Indian restaurant they give you a little bowl of seeds after the meal? The ones that taste of aniseed are fennel.

      The bulb looks a bit like a peeled onion, but it has tubes coming up off and leaves attached to the tubes (my description is crap!). It smells really aniseedy when you’re cutting it up, but I find the taste of aniseed fairly mild – at least when it’s cooked. I haven’t tried it raw.

      The Germans drink fennel tea for stomach problems (gas, constipation, to help with digestion) and period pains. They use teas for EVERYTHING here though!

  1. Mmm this sounds tasty for an easy dinner, and leftovers for lunch! I love making enough for leftovers the next day.

    I see fennel all the time in shops and I’ve yet to buy. We had the same experience with aubergine, turns out we like aubergine, so we might have the same luck with fennel πŸ™‚

    1. We never had aubergine at home ( dad doesn’t eat it),but I randomly decided to try it at some point and now I buy it all the time. Turns out I love it!

      Fennel has an aniseedy kind of flavour, so if you like aniseed you’ll probably like fennel as well.

    1. LOL, really? I thought only Germans drank such weird things. Supposedly fennel is good for stomach problems and period pain. Every tea MUST be good for something… you can’t possibly just drink tea because you like it πŸ˜‰

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