Fettuccine With Braised Fennel, Walnuts, Saffron and Cream
2 medium fennel bulbs (or one large)
1/4 cup minced scallion (white and green)
1/2 cup walnuts
1/8 teaspoon loosely packed saffron thread (about 15 threads)
1 pound fresh fettuccine
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup minced parsley
Grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread walnuts on a baking sheet or pie pan and toast until fragrant and lightly browned, about 15 minutes. Cool, then chop fine and set aside.
Cut off the stalks of the fennel bulb(s),if attached. Finely mince and set aside. Try to include some of the feathery leaves.
Dice the scallions.
Melt the butter in a skillet overly moderately low heat. Add the diced fennel and scallions and season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat with the seasonings.
Add the chicken stock and saffron threads, bring to a simmer and cover. Adjust the heat to maintain a simmer and cook until tender and much of the liquid has evaporated, about ten minutes.
Stir in the cream. Bring back to a simmer and cook briefly to incorporate. Take care not to reduce the sauce too much as fresh pasta absorbs a lot of the sauce.
Taste and adjust the seasoning. Keep warm over low heat.
Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling, salted water until al dente. Drain. Transfer the pasta to a large bowl. Add contents of the skillet and mix. Serve immediate on warm dishes, topping each with a reserve of a few chopped fennel leaves, if available.
NOTES: * This recipe comes from a book called Pasta Harvest by Janet Fletcher. The book is all vegetable pasta dishes, with the dishes listed alphabetically by vegetable, starting with artichokes and ending with tomatoes. There are separate sections on pasta shapes, how to make pasta and creating sauces.
* I only eat this dish in the winter. Why? I dunno. I guess I think of fennel and heavy pastas as "winter."
* I know I should photograph food in natural light, but I didn't want to wait until tomorrow and wade out through snow to get to my garden table. I also forgot to mix the sauce with the pasta so it's sitting there like vom on top of the pasta. But it was good tasting vom.
* I went to reach for my saffron threads and "oops." I didn't have any. I did have a package of Spanish yellow rice, so I tapped into that to get some saffron flavoring. It really needs the saffron, though. Guess what got added to my "to buy" list?
* I usually cut this recipe in half. I could even see eating it over rice.
* I don't go to the trouble to roast the walnuts in the oven. At best, I may toss them around in a smaller fry pan for a few minutes.
* You can vary that butter-oil ratio. The recipe does need butter. It does not need oil. I only used butter tonight.
* I use a bit more of the feathery leaves than the recipe calls for, simply because I like the look of them.
* I never use heavy cream. You can use half and half, probably even whole milk. I would not make it using skim milk.