Pasta with Fennel Sauce

Ingredients

3 quarts water
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 bulb fennel, stalks and core removed, sliced into matchstick sized pieces (1 ½ cups)
1 cup thinly sliced onion
½ cup pine nuts
6 cloves garlic, thickly sliced
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Zest from 1 lemon, grated ( approx. 2 teaspoons)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
½ cup white wine
1 cup whipping cream
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
1 teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 lb. penne rigate, linguine or spaghetti

Directions

Yield: 6 generous portions

Bring the water to a boil in a large pot.

To prepare the fresh fennel, trim away the tough green stalks. Scrape or cut away any brown spots from the outside layers. Slice the fennel bulb in half lengthwise and remove the tough inner core. Slice the remaining fennel bulb into matchstick sized pieces.

In the olive oil over medium heat, sauté the fennel and onion until they soften slightly, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the pine nuts, garlic, red pepper flakes, lemon zest and half of the chopped parsley. Sauté, stirring regularly until the garlic and pine nuts start to brown, 6-8 minutes. Deglaze the pan with the wine, stirring to dislodge any flavorful brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Reduce the wine by half. Add the cream, chicken or vegetable stock, salt and pepper and simmer for 10-12 minutes until the sauce has thickened and will coat the back of a wooden spoon.

Cook the pasta according to the directions on the package, drain and return to the pot. Pour the sauce over the pasta and simmer over low heat, stirring constantly, until the pasta is well coated, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the cheese, and stir well. The pasta is ready to be served.