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Whole Wheat Orecchiette with Sausage and Caramelized Fennel
serves 4

INGREDIENTS

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound Italian sausage (about 4 links, with fennel inside)
1 red onion, very thinly sliced
½ fennel, very thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, sliced
¼ cup dry white wine
½ cup vegetable broth
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cold
½ cup crème fraîche
1 pound whole wheat orecchiette
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
½ cup chopped fennel fronds (or parsley)
Salt and pepper

METHOD

In a heavy-bottomed, wide pan, add the olive oil. Remove the sausages from their casings, and add to the oil. Cook over medium-high heat, breaking up with a wooden spoon, until golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Add the onion and fennel to the pan with the drippings from the sausage. Season with salt and pepper, and add about 2 tablespoons of water. Cook over medium heat for 20 – 25 minutes, until the vegetables are caramelized. If the pan ever starts to burn, add a spoonful of water. Add the garlic and warm through. Add the wine and reduce by half, scraping the good brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Add the vegetable broth and the reserved sausage into the pan. Bring to a boil, and stir in the cold butter. Finally, stir in the crème fraîche.

While the onion and fennel cooks, cook the pasta according to package instructions until al dente.

Add the cooked orecchiette on top of the sauce. Top with the Parmesan and the fennel fronds. Then, toss to coat, finishing the pasta in the sauce. Add up to ¼ cup of pasta water if the sauce seems too dry. Devour!

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