Pasta with Sausage, Fennel, and Arugula
This is a handy and relatively quick meal for two that can expand for an extra guest with the addition of a little more pasta. I prefer to use mafalda pasta (it looks like mini lasagna noodles, with ruffled edges). Fusilli or rotini work well too. I use mild sausage but heat it up a bit with added red pepper flakes.
3/4 lb mild Italian sausage, removed from casing
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon fennel seeds (optional)
1 medium fennel bulb, quartered and thinly sliced
1 medium onion, quartered and thinly sliced
red pepper flakes (optional)
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
¼ cup white wine
250g mafalda pasta or similar short pasta
salt and pepper, to taste
2-3 big handfuls arugula
grated parmesan or pecorino romano, to taste
In a large sauté pan over medium heat, cook the sausage, breaking it up into small pieces as it cooks. You may need to add a little olive oil, depending on the sausage. When it is cooked through, remove from pan and set aside. Prepare pasta according to the package directions.
Add some olive oil to the pan and the fennel seeds, if using. Toast the seeds for about 30 seconds before adding the sliced fennel and onion. Sauté, stirring regularly, for about 5 minutes, until they begin to soften. Add red pepper flakes (if using) and garlic and cook for a few more minutes. I like some of the vegetables to be slightly browned.
Depending on how salty the sausage is, you may want to add a little salt at this stage. Deglaze the pan with white wine and then add the sausage back in. Cover and simmer while the pasta finishes cooking.
Drain the pasta, reserving a little of the pasta water. Add the pasta to sausage mixture and cook for a minute or two, stirring regularly until the remaining liquid thickens and coats the pasta, adding a little pasta water if needed. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Just before serving, toss in the arugula and stir once. It will wilt into the pasta. Serve with a generous grating of the cheese.
Thomas Roach is a Vancouver based artist who specializes in stitched textiles. His work explores spiritual themes and community stories.