Pasta with Fennel, Kale, and Lemon
Have I ever told you guys just how much I love pasta? Actually, love isn’t a strong enough word to convey my feelings towards this food group. Obsessed is better.
Whole wheat pasta, homemade pasta (even chickpea pasta), dried pasta, you name it. I don’t even want to know how many pounds of pasta I’ve consumed over the years. Actually, that thought is a bit frightening now that I think about it. Let’s move on…
It has been far too long since I shared a normal, everyday pasta recipe with you. This most likely has to do with the fact that the pasta dishes I cook most often are totally just thrown together. I mean, sometimes we have a plan–i.e. tomato sauce, pesto, etc.
But I can’t even tell you the last time I’ve actually written anything down. I’m usually more concerned, at that point, with the eating part of the equation.
In fact, the following sentence escapes my lips almost every time I’m asked to explain how I made some pasta dish or sauce… “You have to feel [insert ingredient here]’s presence.” [Connor rolls his eyes every time I say that.]
I know…I sound like an old lady. But that’s sort of how I cook pasta dishes around here.
And if you weren’t already aware, I’m also a total pasta topping snob. As in, if you don’t have the proper cheese to top pasta with (and by that, I mean Parmigiano-Reggiano. Grana Padano at the very least..perhaps Romano or Pecorino, depending on the dish), don’t even bother to make it. I told you I was a snob.
Of course, that rule doesn’t apply with any type of seafood pasta. Because to Italians, that’s blasphemy. [But I have caved and done this on more than one occasion. Testament to my love of cheese.]
This dish combines sauteed onion, fennel, lacinato kale, lots of garlic, some red pepper flakes, and is finished with a good squeeze of fresh lemon juice. It’s simple, but delicious.
It is the kind of meal that can be made in the amount of time it takes to bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the pasta. That’s always nice, right?
Once sauteed, the fennel begins to lose some of its stronger anise flavor and becomes much sweeter. The kale adds a touch of bitterness–and the lemon juice brightens up the entire dish.
I finished each plate with a drizzle of chili pepper oil (you can buy it or make your own–using the note in the recipe!), fennel fronds, and a large handful of cheese. More importantly, I wrote it all down this time. Enjoy!
Pasta with Fennel, Kale, and Lemon
- 2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- ½ large red onion thinly sliced
- 2 fennel bulbs, tough outer layer removed and fronds reserved thinly sliced
- 3 large garlic cloves finely slivered
- 2-3 large pinches red pepper flakes
- 1 large bunch of lacinato kale tough stems discard and leaves roughly chopped
- juice of one lemon
- 10 ounces spinach fettuccine
- kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- fennel fronds
- chili pepper oil optional
- Put a large pot of well-salted water on to boil. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over low heat. Add the onion and cook gently for 5 minutes, or until the onions are beginning to soften.
- Turn up the heat to medium, add the sliced fennel, and saute gently for an additional 6 to 8 minutes or until the fennel is tender and slightly caramelized. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and continue to cook, stirring frequently, for another minute or two. Turn off the heat.
- When the fennel is almost cooked, add the pasta to the pan of boiling water and cook until al dente, adding the kale to the pasta pot about 2 to 3 minutes before the pasta is done cooking.
- Drain the pasta (reserving ½ cup of the starchy cooking water) and greens thoroughly and toss with the onion and fennel mixture in the pan - adding pasta water if necessary. Add the lemon juice, season with salt and pepper, and serve immediately.
- Drizzle each serving with chile oil, fennel fronds, and lots of grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese.
Tips for Success:
- Chile oil is available at Whole Foods and other grocery stores–or make your own by lightly heating a cup of olive oil with one tablespoon red pepper flakes.
64 Comments on “Pasta with Fennel, Kale, and Lemon”
Love this recipe ❣️I also added Cajun sausage too it which I added into the funnel … it was really good this way also 😋both ways are yummy 😋
Amazing flavours, definitely adding this to my menu plan
Wonderful! Used chard instead of kale. It’s a keeper!
Great combo! I went to TJs and just bought what looked good in produce, along with Cauliflower Gnocchi (frozen). Organic kale, package of fennel, chicken sausage, and lo and behold, this was the right nudge I the direction I needed to make a great dish. Thanks for the inspiration
Hey, this recipe sounds so good and I’m going to try it tomorrow 🙂 Do leftovers keep for a few days, or should I cook only what I know I will eat right away?
The leftovers should keep well for 3-4 days (in a container in the fridge), like most other pastas! Obviously best eaten fresh, but can absolutely be eaten as leftovers.
Thanks! It was delicious, my first time cooking with fennel! 🙂
Glad you enjoyed it!
Very tasty! Fragrant and aromatic
Absolutely fabulous! I’m getting back to veggie eating after a long while, and this was epic!
I’m also eating a LOT of vegetables lately and haven’t really been eating any meat (with the exception of seafood once or twice) or over a month, so I know the feeling. So glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for taking the time to leave a review!
Usually a die hard Tomatoey-Sauce-base pasta girl. HOWEVER, just made this tonight and has definitely changed my pasta game big time. Love love love it. Seriously delish – LOTS of lemon and and lots of garlic and perfectly caramelised fennel was key.
Such a great recipe!!!
Yay! Thanks for the feedback!
Fantastic recipe!! Perfect combination of ingredients and I wouldn’t change a thing. I didn’t even need the pasta water I had in reserve. Spinach fettuccine was the perfect choice for the pasta. Delicious, delicious. Thank you for this recipe. This was a definite hit and so healthy as well. =•)
So happy to hear that!
This was AMAZING. I added shrimp to it and used whole wheat pasta. It was healthy and tasty.
It was amazing! Thanks for posting the recipe ????
I made this & it was yummy-a keeper. Thank you!
Hi there! This dish is delicious. I have small children so didn’t add the chile oil, fennel fronds or red pepper flakes (probably would make for a completely different flavor) but otherwise it’s cooked to their perfection.
I made a note to self to use juice of 1/2 a lemon instead of a full lemon next time (I squeezed the juice rather than used bottled lemon juice). It was a bit too lemony/sour for my taste at the very end. Before I put the juice in there, the flavor needed only a little love (so the 1/2 lemon would be perfect – even a 1/4 if you’re not a fan of citrus).
The necessary addition for me was Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese to top it off. I live in WI so we add cheese to everything ;).
This pasta sauce is amazing! I made it for dinner and I know I’ll be making it again and again, so simple yet so delicious. Thank you, Laura!
Yay! So thrilled to hear that. I think I’m going to update the photos on this post soon, because they deserve some love 🙂
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I’m confused by which greens to add to the boiling water with the pasta.. All greens are being sautéed. Thanks!
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Oh this looks so amazing! I have two fennel bulbs and some kale that will be made into this tonight for dinner-perfect lazy Monday evening game plan, along with some white wine. Thanks for the wonderful recipe! 🙂
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Top marks for this recipe. Tastes superb. Thanks for sharing.
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This looks really fresh and delicious, great flavour combination!
Oh my goodness, these photos are so gorgeous and your pasta looks to-die-for. I’m with you — TOTALLY obsessed with pasta of any kind!!! 🙂 So glad I found your blog just now and excited to keep following you!
Thank you SO much! I’ve been checking out your blog and it’s great!! So happy you’re here 🙂
Can’t wait to have this for dinner tonight. The garden produced so much kale this year so it’s great to find yummy recipes like this.
I wish I had a garden full of kale!! Report back, please 🙂
Can we be pasta snobs together? It is Parm-Regg on my pasta or BUST. And by BUST I mean, I refuse to be friends with anyone who uses any substitute. Amen to that! And beautiful flavors in this pasta!!
Yes, please!!! I laughed so hard at your comment. I totally agree, it’s awful but if I see THAT green can in your fridge, we can’t be friends. It just won’t work.
First your photos are stunning! Annnnd this pasta!? I love everything about it!
Thank you SO much Laurie! Means a lot 🙂 And thanks for visiting! (Love your blog.)
I LOVE pasta and fettuccine is one of my favorite shapes/types…also, I’m obsessed with fennel! This sounds perfect.
Fettuccine is one of my favorites too! I used a dried egg one for this, but that was purely for aesthetic reasons 😉 Thanks for visiting, Cindy!
Perfection! I love your pictures and your recipe! 🙂
Feel free to visit my blog as well if you wish! <3
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Thank you Diana! Great blog too 🙂 Thanks for visiting!
ohmygosh, ohmygosh, ohmygosh…this pasta dish has my name alllll over it! I have a huge soft spot for fennel and kale. This is a perfect weeknight dinner!
Your enthusiasm is contagious! 🙂 Seriously, it put a smile on my face. Thanks Kelli! Glad you like this one!
Laura, this looks delicious! High five for pasta, let’s eat all the carbs! I love the idea of combining fenel and kale, yum. These pictures are beautiful.
Yay!! More carbs, please 😉
What a perfect fall pasta! I’m a cheese snob too, I will gladly fork over $18 or $19 a pound for good quality Parmigiano Reggiano and not even blink an eye. Sooo worth it!
I have a Costco membership literally just to buy (slightly cheaper) Parmesan cheese…it’s quite sad. I buy blocks at a time! 🙂
i will need to make this soon, maybe even for mom and dad if I could on Thursday night!
Cool! Let me know if you try it!
Stop it!! There are so many good things happening on that plate of pasta. All those flavors with that drizzle of chili pepper oil, has to make for one incredible dish ..
Haha! Why thank you! 🙂
I prefer past with veggies over red sauce, so this is perfect! Another great recipe from you.
Aww, thanks so much Norma!
This is kind of pasta perfection in my eyes. Simple, Cheesy and full of kale! My kind of pasta and I love the spinach fettuccine! Oh and I kind of cook pasta the same way, just using whatever I have (always good cheese!) and calling it a day!
I’m pretty sure we like/love all of the same foods. Yah! I totally just throw pasta dishes together, but am trying to get better at writing stuff down, haha!