Penne with fennel, shrimps and dried tomatoes

This is one of those a la minute, that always turn out impressively delicious. When out of ideas, put the kettle to a boil, get out your favorite pasta, open your fridge and three or four items for the condiment. It could be fish, meat, veggies, anything you like and think could go well together.

That’s how I came up with this recipe. The combination of fennel, shrimps and dried tomatoes, hmmm, will surely make an interesting dish.

While the water is slowly coming to a boil I think about how to combine the three ingredients. To make things simple, especially when in a hurry, the straight forward method of just tossing everything in the pan with olive oil seems satisfying enough. The best pasta sauces are those which are done by the time the pasta is cooking.

So, pan on the stove! By the time I slice the fennel, including the green leaves, very thin, the dried tomatoes julienne (very fine, in order for them to melt while cooking), prepare the shrimps, the oil is just hot enough. Put all ingredients in the pan and saute. Next, the condiments: the garlic, of course, crushed and coarsely minced, some dries thyme I had laying around, a pinch of pepper and that pink salt – lady’s salt I call it (Himalayan salt actually), because why not?

While the pasta is cooking, and the water is getting starchy, my sauce is halfway done, I add some pasta water to dissolve the wonderful caramelized heavenly sticky goo from the pan. As the penne are getting just about ‘al dente’ I drain them and toss them into the pan. In with the butter, a good spoon full.

Instead of the same old parmesan cheese on top, I grate some ricotta left over from the day before, perfect! A  drizzle of olive oil and it’s done. 20 minutes, delicious.

For two, you will need:

  • 6.5oz (190g) penne pasta (or other short-form pasta)
  • 1/2 fennel, sliced finely
  • 3-4 shrimps per person
  • 2-3 dried tomatoes, julienned
  • salt, pepper, 1 clove of garlic, thyme, olive oil
  • ricotta for topping

Note: if perhaps you end up with leftovers, you can always store it in the fridge, maybe for the next day, as a pasta salad. Just add some rucola, lettuce, and diced cucumbers.