This vegetarian pasta is lighter than many of the ragus we are used to seeing in the winter, but still hearty enough to satisfy our cold weather appetites. I like that the tomatoes in this pasta are fresh not canned. Their flavor is enhanced by roasting them in the oven. This step can be done ahead of time.
Browning the fennel and onions in a skillet brings out their milder, sweeter side in this dish. An inexpensive mandoline makes the job of thinly slicing them so easy. You can find one for as little as $ 20.00. It's a kitchen tool I honestly can't live without. For some heat, fresno chiles are finely chopped and added to the vegetables. As an alternative, you can substitute red chili flakes if you like.
This dish can easily be prepped ahead of time and assembled quickly before serving. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!
Spaghetti with Oven Roasted Tomatoes and Caramelized Fennel
- 2 lbs fresh plum tomatoes
- 1 T. olive oil
- salt, pepper
- 3 sprigs of fresh thyme
Heat oven to 250F. Cut plum tomatoes in half lengthwise. Place in a bowl and toss with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Place cut side down on a parchment lined baking sheet Sprinkle the tomatoes with thyme and roast in the oven for 2-3 hours until soft and shriveled. This can be done ahead of time and set aside.
- 1 bulb fennel, thinly sliced
- 1 red onion, thinly sliced
- 1-3 fresno chilies, depending on how much heat you like, finely chopped
- 4 T. olive oil
- 8 oz. spaghetti
- 2 T. fresh Italian parsely, finely chopped
- 1 cup toasted bread crumbs
Heat 2 T. olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add fennel and brown, stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes. Add 1 T. additional olive oil to the pan and the onions. Continue cooking until soft. Add the chilies and cook for 2 minutes. Chop the roasted tomatoes and add to the skillet. Set aside.
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta until al dente. Drain, reserving about 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Add the pasta and the water to the skillet and toss together. Turn heat to high, add parsely and remaining olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with bread crumbs and serve immediately.
Recipe adapted from Saveur magazine.
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