I had a busy week, how about you? I wish that I could tell you that I was MIA due to the fact that I had tickets to the Inauguration, but that is not the case. Sadly. I listened to the Inauguration on NPR in my car as I tried to prepare for a 3:00 o'clock meeting.
In addition to some work-related time constraints, I had a tough time devising recipes this week. Maybe that's because it is late January and the seasonal pickings are slim right now. How many root vegetable dishes can one girl make?
Anyway, I'm back from a brief hiatus in posting, but I have a nice pasta dish for you to make up for it. It even features a root vegetable, but in a good way.
Braised Fennel Pasta
A Fritter Original
1 large fennel bulb
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 teaspoon of olive oil
1/2 pound of whole wheat rotini, essentially two handfuls of dry pasta
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar (or any other vinegar that has a touch of underlying sweetness)
3/4 cup of chicken stock
1 cup of loosely-packed fresh spinach leaves
1 cup of fresh green beans (not canned or frozen), sliced on the diagonal into bite-sized pieces
Salt and pepper to taste
4 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
4 tablespoons freshly-grated fontina
Take the fennel bulb and remove any fronds still attached. Core the bulb and chop the fennel into 1/2-inch pieces. Heat a medium-sized saucepan over medium-low heat and add the butter and olive oil. When the butter has melted and is beginning to foam, add the fennel and toss well to coat. Braise the fennel in the butter until it is soft and golden-brown, about 20-25 minutes.
While the fennel is braising, bring a separate medium-sized saucepan of water to a boil. Add the rotini and boil until al dente, 10 - 12 minutes. Drain and set aside.
When the fennel has caramelized to a golden-brown color, add the apple cider vinegar and mix in well. Once the vinegar has evaporated, add the chicken stock and bring to a gentle simmer. Add the spinach leaves and green beans and salt and pepper to taste. Reduce the heat to low and cover for 3 minutes, until the spinach has wilted.
Divide the pasta between two shallow bowls. Spoon the fennel sauce over the pasta, then add 2 tablespoons of toasted pine nuts and 2 tablespoons of fontina cheese to each bowl. Serve immediately.