Pasta with Leeks, Fennel, Tomatoes and BaconCourse: DinnerCuisine: ItalianDifficulty: Easy
My husband is Northern Italian background and our daughter is defiantly the Italian child as she could eat pasta, polenta and risotto all the time. I love this recipe which I found on The Kitchen Blog. I love leeks and fennel. I love that this recipe can be made year round even when tomatoes aren’t in season. I usually use canned cherry tomatoes that you can find in gourmet grocery stores. They are canned right off the vine so they are sweet and the texture is perfect. To buy cherry tomatoes in winter at the grocery store, they aren’t sweet and the skins are tough.
As far as the bacon goes, it is easy and something I always have on hand. You can use pancetta for an even more delicious taste. I like to garnish meals with fresh herbs so I used a mix of parsley and mint. This pasta was a hit with my crew, kids included.
3 leeks, tops cut off, bottoms trimmed, sliced lengthwise and rinsed well
1 large fennel bulb or 2 small fennel bulbs, cut off the top, rinse the fennel bulb, slice in half. Dice one half and thinly slice the other
8 oz cherry tomatoes, sliced in half or 2 cans of cherry tomatoes
1 small this chile or half of a jalapeño
6 Tablespoons parsley, chopped and divided
3 1/2 oz thick cut bacon or pancetta, chopped
12oz dried rigatoni
3 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 Tablespoons fresh mint, chopped
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
- Prepare the leeks by cutting off the stem where the white and green meet. Once cleaned, slice into small pieces. Prep the fennel and the fresh tomatoes if using. Halve the chile and remove the seeds. Chop the bacon or pancetta.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil over med-high heat. In a pan, cook the bacon, drain off the fat and place bacon on a plate on top of a few pieces of paper towel.
- In another pan, add the oil. Once hot , add the vegetables (Reserve the sliced fennel) and a big pinch of Kosher Salt. Cook until tender, stirring occasionally about 5 minutes. Remove chile. Remove to a heated plate.
- Add the remaining oil to the pan, and heat. Add tomatoes and 2 Tablespoons parsley and pinch of salt. Cook stirring occasionally until tomatoes have broken down and are soft, 8 minutes. If the large pot of water is boiling, add a large pinch of salt and add rigatoni. Cook pasta to instructions on box.
- Add the sliced fennel and cook for 3-5 minutes. Remove pan from stove, drain the pasta, Reserving about 1/2 cup of the pasta water, add the pasta to the sauce with some of the water depending on how you like your sauce, then add in the vegetables and the bacon and the cheese. Serve on a serving platter with more parsley and the mint.
- I always like to serve pasta with a garnish of fresh herbs, a drizzle of really high end olive oil and delicious crusty bread.