Fennel is one of those things I really like – and rarely cook.  I don’t think I ever had it as a kid, and I can’t think of any restaurants I ever worked where it was on a menu.  And since so much of my cooking repertoire comes from those places…

So I was at the grocery store today, spied some fennel, and thought of a pasta dish I had seen some time back in Bon Appetit magazine.  Out came the phone, I hit the Epicurious App, and within seconds, there was the recipe.  Sometimes I just love technology!

I can’t believe that it was only a few years ago that I didn’t even want a camera on my phone.  It’s not that I was a Luddite… I just wanted a phone to make calls – not have people call me.  I still don’t want people calling me on my cell phone – but I have embraced carrying the world around in my pocket.  It is seriously way-cool.

The recipe called for tortellini, but we had lots of different pastas already in the house.  No need to buy something else.

I played around with the original recipe – as is my wont – and must say it came out pretty good.

Which brings me to another gripe I have – people giving a poor rating to a recipe based on what they did to it, not the recipe, itself.  Time and time again I read things like “I didn’t have any Italian sausage so I used a chicken sausage I got from Walmart and I didn’t have any spinach so I used kale and whipping cream is bad for you so I substituted nonfat milk.  It was just horrible.  I only give it one fork.”–A Chef from Peoria.

Dear Clueless in Peoria…  You’re a lousy cook – there’s nothing wrong with the recipe!

Dischi Pasta with Italian Sausage, Fennel, and Mushrooms

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large fennel bulb, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 1 lb Italian sausages, crumbled
  • lg pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 lb baby bella mushrooms, sliced
  • 4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp fennel seeds, coarsely crushed
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 lb pasta
  • 1 bag fresh baby spinach leaves
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

Sauté sliced fennel bulb, sausage, and mushrooms until sausage is brown and cooked through and fennel is almost tender. Add garlic, red pepper, and fennel seeds. Stir in cream, then 1 cup broth.  Bring to boil and then simmer a few minutes until it slightly thickens.

Cook pasta. Drain.

Add pasta to sausage mixture. Add spinach; toss gently until spinach wilts. Stir in 1/2 cup cheese.

Add S&P as desired.

It just worked.  Fun and flavorful.