PASTA + ANISE
What’s cooking today: Fennel bulb & smoked salmon tagliatelle
Not all pasta sauces have to be made with olive oil. Some are better with butter. Like this one…
The anise flavour of a fennel bulb is subtle; just a hint of licorice, as it were, to tantalise the palate. Paired with a small amount of smoked salmon in a pasta sauce, it makes for a pleasant light supper. I like the role played by the sourness of a high quality crème fraiche in this sauce, which needs gentle cooking until it thickens simply by careful reduction.
There’s wine too, in moderation so that it does not mask the fennel, and go easy on the smoked salmon; it’s an ingredient, not the hero of the dish. Too much and it will dominate the fennel.
I used egg tagliatelle for this, but other pasta types such as linguine would be good, or pasta shells.
The fennel is first poached in white wine and vegetable stock. But it all begins with butter…
3 Tbsp butter
4 durum wheat egg tagliatelle nests
100 g to 150 g smoked salmon, in thin strips
250 g Dalewood jersey crème fraiche or similar
1 fennel bulb
2 Tbsp chopped fennel fronds and more for garnish
1 small red onion, very thinly sliced
1 bruised garlic clove
¼ cup dry white wine
Vegetable stock to cover the fennel
Black pepper to taste
2 pinches of celery salt, and more to taste
Cut away the fennel bulb core. Poach the fennel bulb sections (they peel off like leaves) in white wine and vegetable stock with 1 bruised garlic clove, 2 pinches of celery salt and 2 Tbsp butter. Season with black pepper to taste, about 7 grindings.
Sauté the sliced red onion in the butter until soft but not attaining colour.
Tip the poached fennel and the poaching stock into the pasta sauce. Simmer gently until reduced by two thirds. Add the crème fraiche and stir so that the cream melds perfectly with the sauce. Add the smoked salmon and stir so that all the pieces are coated. Reduce very gently until thickened, adding chopped fennel fronds along the way. Season and adjust with celery salt and black pepper.
Meanwhile, cook and drain the tagliatelle.
Toss the tagliatelle through the pasta sauce and serve with chopped fennel fronds as garnish. DM/TGIFood
Tony Jackman is Galliova Food Champion 2021. His book, foodSTUFF, is available in the DM Shop. Buy it here.
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