Bacon and Fennel Pasta

 

I know, I know the finished dish looks like a cat has vomited on a plate of pasta… but I’ve always found taking photographs of pasta really difficult. You have to trust me when I say it’s delicious!

J first cooked me this dish many moons ago, and we usually enjoy it with spaghetti or homemade tagliatelle. I was planning to make this pasta for Valentine’s dinner, and when I saw the heart-shaped pasta, I just HAD to use it!

This recipe combines the light aniseed flavor from fennel, and the saltiness from the bacon in a creamy, dairy-free Marsala-scented sauce. It’s easy to make and packed full of scrumminess.

 

BACON AND FENNEL PASTA
Serves 2-3
Adapted from “Ultimate Recipes – Italian”, by Paragon publishers

 

Ingredients

  • 3 bulbs fennel, trimmed and cut into quarters or sixths, keeping the pieces intact
  • 200 g (7 oz) pasta
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 shallots, finely chopped
  • 4 rashers (slices) British back bacon, fat trimmed and chopped into 1.25 cm (½ inch) pieces
  • 4 ¼ tablespoons plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 5 tablespoons coconut milk
  • 4 tablespoons Marsala wine
  • ½ teaspoon better than bouillon chicken stock*
  • 360 ml (1 ½ c) water
  • Salt and pepper to taste

* Better than bouillon is a concentrated paste, which you add water to, to make a stock. If this is not available, use stock cubes or ready-made unsalted stock instead of water in step 5.

 

Method

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Add the fennel, bring to the boil and then simmer for 5-8 minutes or until the fennel is tender. Cool under a cold running tap and drain. Set aside.

2. Bring another large pot of salted water to the boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente according to the packet’s instructions.

3. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large frying pan until hot. Saute shallots until translucent, about 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

4. Add bacon to the frying pan and stir until cooked, about 2-3 minutes.

5. Stir in flour, and then gradually add the water, stirring continuously until well incorporated and smooth.

6. Add Marsala, chicken stock, coconut milk and simmer until slightly thickened. Add fennel and gently simmer to heat through and then season to taste.

7. Drain pasta and divide between 2-3 plates. Top with sauce and enjoy!

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