Monday, November 5, 2012

Fennel Pasta

What happens when you put two contradictions together when it comes to food?  How would children respond?  This is exactly what I did with the dish below.  My children love anything that has macaroni, pasta or spaghetti.  And my son hates red capsicums that are cooked – my daughter hates zucchini in any shape or form.  This dish has red capsicum and two types of zucchini.  I need to make sure I cater to both their dislikes in the same dish or I would be “unfair” or in their own words, “Why do you hate me more?”  Mothers of teenagers could relate to this sentence I think.

I sometimes camouflage the capsicum with the tomatoes in a salad for my son, and he hardly ever recognizes the taste difference or then mixing the zucchini with the cucumber for my daughter.  In most cases it is just psychological or the looks of the vegetables that put them off.  Besides that, sometimes julienning them or grating them does a lot to disguise the vegetables or the taste. Combine some seasonings with the disguised vegetables, and you have a recipe for success.  The gentle flavors of the dill combined with the lemon and lemon zest do wonders to this dish.  In the recipe below, I did omit the yellow zucchini and instead doubled the green one.

Preparation Time: 25 minutes
Serves: 4


500 grams pasta/macaroni or spaghetti
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon pine nuts
1 large fennel, thinly sliced
2 yellow zucchini, thinly sliced or grated
2 green zucchini, thinly sliced or grated
1 red capsicum, thinly sliced
Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
150ml cream
3 tablespoons fresh dill
3 tablespoons parmesan cheese gratings
Salt and Pepper to taste


  1. Bring a large pan of water to boil and cook the pasta according to the instructions.  Drain and keep aside.  
  2. In a separate pot, melt 1 teaspoon butter and toast the pine nuts in it till golden brown.  Keep the pine nuts aside.  
  3. In the same pot, add the remaining butter and cook the fennel for about 7 minutes or until it begins to soften.  
  4. Stir in the two types of zucchini and capsicum and cook, stirring for another 5 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.  
  5. Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, cream, dill and the drained pasta to the pot and stir to combine.  
  6. Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately topped with parmesan gratings.


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