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Pasta with Squash, Fennel, Sausage and Ricotta
- 1 lb. pasta
- ½ medium onion, finely chopped for the breadcrumbs
- 1 cup breadcrumbs
- ½ lb. of wild fennels or the feathery green leaves of bulb fennel
- 1 medium onion, diced for the sauce
- 1 lb. of summer or winter squash, washed, peeled and finely diced
- 1 sausage, without the casing
- 1 lb. of ricotta
- 1 cup of olive oil
- Dry hot red peppers flakes, served on the side
- Salt and pepper to taste
Over a medium flame, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a 12 inch sauté pan.
Add diced onions and sauté until golden, about 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the breadcrumbs and keep stirring until crumbs are light golden. Blend in 4 additional tablespoons of olive oil, add salt and pepper to taste.
Place in a container and set on the side.
Bring a large pot with 5 quarts of water to a boil; add fennels, 1 tablespoon of salt and cook, keeping pot at a medium heat for 15 minutes or until fennels are tender.
Scoop out the boiled fennels with a slatted spoon and when they are cooled, chop them very fine. Save the fennel water for cooking the pasta.
Over a medium flame, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large sauté pan.
Add the diced onions and sauté for about 5 minutes or until onions are translucent. Add the sausage and sauté for additional 5 minutes to brown the meat, turning occasionally. Add ½ of a cup of the reserved water and stir in the squash, the fennels and salt and pepper to taste. Continue cooking for 10 minutes.
Bring the reserved fennel water to a boil. Add 1 tablespoon of salt and cook the pasta following the manufactures directions. Reduce the recommended cooking time by 2 minutes.
While the pasta is cooking, combine the ricotta with ½ cup of boiling water from the pasta pot, mix it until smooth.
Drain pasta, reserve a cup of water and toss the cooked pasta into the sauté pan with the sauce. Add the ricotta and toss until pasta and sauce are well combined, add ½ of the breadcrumbs and over a low heat gently turn for about 2 minutes. If it is too dry, add some of the reserved water. Serve immediately.
Garnish each dish with some breadcrumbs, drizzle with a few drops of olive oil and offer hot red pepper flakes and the remaining breadcrumbs on the side.