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Squash, Fennel & White Bean Pasta

October 15, 2009

This week’s new ingredient includes this vegetable: Fennel


Fennel is crunchy and slightly sweet and most often associated with Italian cooking. The stalks are topped with feathery green leaves near which flowers grow and produce fennel seeds. The bulb, stalk, leaves and seeds are all edible. It is highly aromatic and flavorful with culinary and medicinal uses, and is one of the primary ingredients of absinthe. I wonder if that’s why I felt a little high when I was eating this pasta? Just kidding. Wow, lots of really crazy funny stories with absinthe, but I won’t get into that on the blog (It was in Hong Kong). The whole time I was making this dish, Brennan thought I was making fennel sausage. Boy, was he in for a surprise.

Once I cut into the fennel, it immediately smelled like licorice. The fennel when cooked down is very mild in flavor. I can’t wait to try it in a fennel salad with an orange vinaigrette. This pasta is so easy to make and not to mention really budget friendly. I tossed in some cannelini beans for some protein and salty goat cheese. You don’t need a lot of goat cheese to really bring flavor to this dish. The squash and fennel soaked up the creaminess of the goat cheese sauce and when tossed with the hot pasta, this was one darn good vegetarian dish.

Squash, Fennel & White Bean Pasta

4 servings


  • 1 large fennel bulb, trimmed
  • 2 medium yellow squash
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 8 ounces (2 cups) whole-wheat penne
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 cup cooked cannellini beans, plus 1/2 cup pasta-cooking liquid or water
  • 2 plum tomatoes, diced
  • 3/4 cup crumbled hard, aged goat cheese, or fresh goat cheese
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Cut fennel bulb in half lengthwise and then slice lengthwise into 1/2-inch-thick wedges. Quarter squash lengthwise. Toss the fennel and squash with 1 tablespoon oil and salt. Arrange in a single layer on a large baking sheet. Roast, turning once, until soft and beginning to brown, about 20 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add pasta; cook until just tender, 8 to 10 minutes or according to package directions.
  4. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Remove from the heat.
  5. Add the vegetables, beans and cooking liquids to the pan with the garlic and place over medium-low heat. Drain the pasta and immediately add it to the pan. Toss thoroughly and add tomatoes; toss until just warm. Remove from the heat and stir in cheese. Season with pepper.


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