This easy bright pasta is not meant to fool your kids into eating more veggies, it’s my take on a dish I had at Restaurant Lento in Rochester this summer. I’ve been waiting for the CSA Share box contents to line up in the right way to add this to the weekly menu. I had something a little different in mind, but sometimes the change in harvest is a happy accident! The fennel and carrot compliment each other nicely, with a hint of lemon. If you need to omit the cheese, I don’t think you (or the kids) will miss it.
The steps for making this are very simple, but it will require some time for roasting. If you are home in the few hours before dinner, toss everything in the oven before you unwind from work. The carrots will be ready in time for dinner, and you’ll just need to boil the pasta. If your time late afternoon is more precious, try making the sauce a few days in advance. Then you’ll have dinner ready in the time it takes to boil pasta. Use a baking sheet or a cast iron skillet to roast the veggies, until they’re soft and starting to brown. If they get two brown you’ll lose the vibrant color in the sauce.
Prep the fennel while the carrots cook. Thinly slice and save some fronds for garnish. Cook the fennel on low in the butter until it’s soft and starting to brown. Reserve.
When the carrots are ready, puree everything with vegetable or chicken stock when it’s done. Add the liquid a little bit at a time, so it doesn’t get too watery. If you need to, use a sieve to push out any excess liquid.
Toss the pasta, cheese, pasta water, and sauce together over medium heat until sauce is combined with pasta. Garnish with fennel fronds, extra cheese, and serve.
4 medium – large carrots, peeled and chopped into a few large pieces
1/2 large or 1 small onion, quartered
2 cloves garlic, peeled and left whole
1/2 – 1 cup vegetable or chicken stock
1 fennel bulb, stalks and end removed, thinly sliced, fronds reserved
1 tablespoon butter
12 oz curly pasta like fussilli
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup finely grated parmesan
Olive Oil, salt, and pepper
Preheat oven to 400F. Toss carrots, onion, and garlic with about a a tablespoon of olive oil and pinch of salt and pepper. Roast for about an hour, tossing halfway through cooking, until carrots and onions are softened and starting to brown. Puree while warm with vegetable stock, start with half a cup and add more liquid if necessary. Use caution when pureeing hot ingredients.
While the carrot mixture is roasting, heat the butter over medium low heat and gently cook fennel until starting to brown and caramelize, set aside in pan.
Cook pasta to al dente according to package directions. Before draining the pasta, save 1/2 cup of the past water. Over medium low heat add pasta, carrot sauce, cheese, and half of the pasta water to the fennel pan. Cook stirring frequently for a minute or two until sauce is combined with pasta. Add more pasta water if necessary. Add lemon juice, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and mix in fennel fronds. Serve with extra grated cheese.