Fennel, Pea and Salsiccia Pasta

Fennel, Pea and Salsiccia Pasta

I won't lie, I ate this pasta for the first time on an olive grove in Sicily (Azienda Agricola Mandranova, to be exact). We were sitting at a row of tables flanking the farmhouse and were instructed to serve ourselves from great big bowlfuls brought over to us. I was politely modest on first serve and understandably gluttonous on the second run (for any meal that ends with a digestive Negroni that's just going to bowl you into bed, why not?). The next night, further up in northern Sicily (you can read about the road trip over at SUITCASE Magazine), where the accommodation was not quite so picturesque, we tried our hand at it, concocting a recipe from our tastebuds – the replica was pretty near perfect. Each time I recreate it I am transported to that evening. It's this kind of time travel that we cook for.

Serves 4

  • 2-3 salsiccia (around 400g)
  • 1 tbsp fennel seeds (adjust to your taste, depending on how fennel-y your salsiccia is. PSA: If you don’t like fennel this recipe’s not for you, it's really the base flavour of this dish and should be bold)
  • 2 cloves garlic 
  • 2 shallot
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 400g mezze maniche pasta or any other hollow pasta like rigatoni (go for 125 g per person if you're on the hungrier side. Italians go by 100g a head) 
  • 1 cup peas (fresh or frozen)

Method:

  1. Remove salsiccia meat from casing
  2.  Depending on how fatty your salsiccia is, add olive oil to your pan (we’re after a sauce that sticks your pasta), then fry salsiccia meat with fennel seeds until it begins to brown
  3. Add crushed garlic and diced shallots 
  4. Meanwhile bring a salted saucepan-full of water to the boil
  5. Add 2 tbsp tomato paste, stir and cook off for a few minutes
  6. Scoop out about a cup of starchy pasta water and add most of it to the frying salsiccia and deglaze pan. See how it absorbs and add more if necessary – you want a loose sauce that will coat the pasta, but nothing too runny
  7. Add peas and season sauce with salt and pepper
  8. Drain pasta when slightly before al dente (usually about 8 minutes, but it depends on saucepan size and water volume)
  9. Add to pan and combine with sauce 
  10. If your sauce is too thin, tighten with parmesan or do so on your plate
Pasta alla Norma under olives trees in Sicily

Pasta alla Norma under olives trees in Sicily

Food Mood: Wardrobe Snacks

Food Mood: Wardrobe Snacks