Papaya Roasted Fennel Pasta Recipe

Papaya Roasted Fennel Pasta Recipe Recipe

This is another dish I prepared during our Roman holiday. I used "artigiano pastaio"-type pasta (prepared by an "artisan expert"). I selected farfalle, the kind shaped like a bow, and used them as a main dish. I flavored them with thinly-sliced fennel bulb and ripe papaya.  

The preparation is fairly simple. I roasted fennel that I coated in papaya and ginger purée, then added the  vegetable to the pasta. The licorice flavor from the fennel and the natural sweetness from the papaya created a unique, extraordinary-tasting, delectable pasta dish.

Ingredients

Yields: 6 servings

1 (16-ounce) package pasta (I used large bow-tie pasta)
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups fresh ripe papaya, peeled and seeded
2 shallots, sliced
2 large fennel bulbs
½ teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 clove garlic, freshly grated
3 tablespoons fresh ginger, grated
2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
½ cup Asiago cheese, freshly shaved


Directions

Roasting the fennel:

Discard the stalk of the fennel bulb (or keep the fronds for garnish) and thinly slice the bulb (see tips). 

In a large pan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add the shallots. When the color is translucent, set them aside.

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Thinly slice a few pieces of the papaya and set aside. Cube the rest. 

In a blender, combine the diced papaya, shallots, balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, coriander and nutmeg. Mix until smooth. 

Brush a baking pan with olive oil. Spread the fennel evenly on the pan, in a single layer. Drizzle with enough olive oil to coat the vegetable. Brush with papaya mixture. Season with pepper. Roast for about 40-45 minutes. Flip half-way through the cooking process for even roasting. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons Asiago cheese. Remove from the oven. Let cool. 


For the pasta:

Bring about 5 quarts of water to a boil. Add the pasta, bring back to a boil and immediately lower the heat to a gentle boil. That way the pasta willis cook evenly all the way through. Cook the pasta for about 12 minutes total. Salt the water half-way through the cooking process (it will bring out the natural flavor of the pasta and it will keep it more tender) and keep stirring every now and then so the pasta doesn't stick to the bottom of the pot. It may take longer than the cooking time that's written on the box. When the pasta is cooked (inside and out but still in shape and firm), transfer it to a large flat platter (you can also skip this step and directly transfer the pasta to the sauté pan), reserving 1 cup of the pasta water.


Assembly:

In a large sauté pan or a large wok, heat the rest of the oil. Add the farfalle pasta. Toss the pasta by shaking the pan for about 2-3 minutes. Season with salt. Add the pasta water as needed so the pasta doesn't stick to the pan. Turn off the heat. Sprinkle with the rest of the Asiago cheese. Transfer to a large serving platter. Cover with the papaya-flavored roasted fennel.

Serve warm. Garnish with the reserved sliced fresh papaya and decorate with the fennel fronds, as a reminder of the flavorings in the pasta dish.

Bon appétit!


Tips

You could use any other vegetables that are in season, such as broccoli, squash, cauliflower or even zucchini.

For the fennel bulb: Cut about ¼-inch thick slices with a mandoline. Or if you don't own one, you can use a sharp chef's knife.

I added Asiago cheese for a subtle saltiness. 

For more recipes using fennel, click on the link.

Published By: Jacqueline Pham on June 23, 2014.


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