Everyone should have a dish that they can make without a recipe & this is mine which made it really hard to write a recipe because I usually just throw it all in a pot based on whatever looks right at the moment.
For me it's an art not a science and its never exactly the same but its always kind of the same. Sometimes in a hurry or on a day when I have no patience, I make it in 20 minutes. Other times I give it a solid hour and take my time - it's always good.
As you can tell from the title, I can't decide on a name. I call it special pasta because its my go to and I've made this more than anything else. But it does remind me of bolognese due to the technique and style of sauce. However, bolognese is a hearty red sauce and this is a bright velvety sauce - aka white bolognese or fennel bolognese.
If you've never cooked with a fennel bulb - now is the time!
2 servings of pasta (really all kinds work well)
1/2 cup Italian sausage (I use chicken)
1 fennel bulb (about 3/4 cup diced)
1 shallot, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup diced shitake mushrooms
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 tablespoons basil pesto
1/2 cup green vegetable (peas, shredded brussels, dice broccolini)
1-2 cups dry white wine (I like to use pinot grigio)
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup shredded white cheddar or parmesan
plenty of fresh ground pepper
1 tablespoon butter, optional
Bring a pot of water to a boil and add in your pasta, cook according to package instructions but take out a minute early so its still al dente. Save a cup of pasta water before draining. Keep pasta covered until ready to use. You should butter or drizzle the pasta with oil while it sits.
In a large sauce or soup pot, heat a tablespoon of avocado or olive oil over medium heat. When it begins to glisten, add in the diced shallot and cook until translucent, then add in the fennel and garlic and a splash of wine and cook until the fennel softens. Next you'll add in the diced mushroom as well as salt, pepper, and a splash of chicken broth. as the vegetables soften and the bottom of the pot gets some color, add in splashes of wine and chicken broth, alternating between the two when things start to stick to the bottom and letting them cook down. You should do this at least 4 times (two of each).
Once the wine has cooked down, add the sausage and butter and break the sausage up into pieces as it cooks. Once it is no longer pink on the outside you can continue with the splashes of wine and chicken broth as necessary. Now add in the tomato paste and mix it in. Next you'll want to add in whichever green veggie you're using and mix it in.
Once everything is fragrant and the new veggies have softened a bit, add another splash of wine, let that cook down then add milk, pesto, and cheese and mix until its soaked in.
Once the cheese has melted and mixed in, add in your pasta and about 1/4 cup of pasta water and mix to get the sauce incorporated and sticking to the pasta.
Finally, split into plates or bowls, top off with a fresh fennel frond (the green feathery part) or basil leaves for decoration if you're feeling it. Enjoy!