When buying fennel for this recipe, look for bulbs that are clean and firm and don't buy those that show signs of bruising or splitting.
Their bulb color should be whitish to pale green and the stalks and fronds should be a nice healthy green. Make sure it has the unmistakable aroma of licorice too.
4 medium leeks (about 1 1/2 pounds)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium fennel bulbs (about 1 pound each)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon sugar
1 package (16 ounces) bow-tie (farfalle) or gemelli pasta
1 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup heavy or whipping cream
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 ripe, medium tomato, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Trim off roots and leaf ends from leeks. Discard any tough outer leaves. Cut each leek lengthwise in half, then crosswise into 1/4-inch-wide slices. Place leeks in large bowl of cold water; with hand, swish leeks around to remove any sand. Remove leeks to colander. Repeat process, changing water several times until all sand is removed. Drain well.
2. In nonstick 12-inch skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat until hot. Add leeks and cook until tender and golden, about 15 minutes, stirring frequently.
3. While leeks are cooking, trim top and bottom from each fennel bulb; reserve fronds, if any, for garnish. Slice each bulb lengthwise in half; remove and discard core. Slice fennel-bulb halves crosswise into thin slices.
4. Add fennel, garlic, sugar, and remaining oil, and cook until fennel is tender and light golden, about 20 minutes, stirring frequently.
5. Meanwhile, prepare pasta in boiling salted water as label directs. Drain; return pasta to saucepot.
6. When leeks are tender, add broth, cream, pepper, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and all but 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese; boil 1 minute.
7. Spoon pasta into deep 4-quart casserole. Add leek mixture and toss well. Sprinkle top with diced tomato and remaining 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese. Bake, covered, 20 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Garnish with fennel fronds, if you like, to serve.
(based on individual servings)
Total Fat: 11 g
Saturated Fat: 4 g
Cholesterol: 17 mg
Sodium: 560 mg
Carbohydrates: 77 g
Fiber: 2 g
Protein: 15 g
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