This pasta was inspired by a Sicilian dish from Gourmet I made years ago during my Boston days with my friend Ginny. The recipe was simple; anchovies, red onions, bread crumbs, and dill. It's silly that I haven't made the recipe since, but here is a slightly different version with one of my favorite vegetables; fennel. The anchovies adds depth and texture, the fennel adds a sweet fragrant flavor, and the breadcrumbs add a crunch.
Pasta with Sautéed Fennel
1 glug of olive oil plus more for drizzling
1 bulb of fennel, diced with a few fronds reserved
3 tablespoon of breadcrumbs or panko
1 package of pasta of your choice (I did whole wheat spaghetti, but would recommend a penne or rigatoni)
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta, and cook for eight minutes, or until tender. Drain and reserve a quarter cup of cooking liquid.
Heat a skillet over medium heat with the olive oil. Add the anchovies and break them up into the skillet with a wooden spoon. After a minute or two, the anchovies will start to disintegrate. Once the anchovies have broken down into a paste, add the fennel and sauté for five minutes.
Add the drained pasta into a pot with the fennel, making sure to scrape up the anchovy paste. Slowly add reserved cooking liquid if pasta seems dry. Toss in bread crumbs and drizzle with olive oil, add salt and pepper, and any leftover fennel fronds.