Lenten Challenge 2013 Day 22: “Mommy’s Fennel Delight”

It’s going to be really hard to write this one down. First of all, tomorrow is grocery shopping day, so I had some leftover stuff to use up; this means that your version of this recipe may will vary. Then there’s the other issue: this was ready in about, well, let’s say 22 minutes, so by the strictest terms, it was a failure under the Lent 2013 Challenge Rules. However, the family had opportunity to eat well before 20 minutes were up. More on that during the recipe itself.

Don’t you love the title, by the way? First Shift picked it.

Mommy’s Fennel Delight (prep time: just over 20 minutes)

1 c pasta shells
2 potatoes, peeled and diced
1 T each of olive oil and butter
1 fennel bulb, sliced thin (put your fennel tops in your stock bag)
3 carrots, sliced as thin as you can get them (I peel mine because we don’t buy organic; also, save some carrot nubs for the kids to gnaw while you cook)
1 onion, chopped
1 T minced garlic
1 T crushed dried sage leaves (more or less to taste)
Sea salt & black pepper to taste
1 c leftover rice (we had instant brown rice leftover from Vegetable Fried Rice)
Grated Parmesan or bleu cheese crumbles to taste

Heat a large (not stock pot size, but the next size down) pot of water to boiling, add some salt, and boil pasta and potatoes 7-9 minutes or until desired tenderness. Meanwhile, heat oil and butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat and add fennel, carrots and onion, stirring frequently. When vegetables are crisp-tender, add garlic, sage and salt, and keep stirring. Add leftover rice. When pasta/potatoes are ready to drain, spoon about 1/2 cup of the pasta/potato water into the skillet; reduce heat to medium-low and cover. Finish draining pasta/potatoes (over a sink this time) and add pasta/potatoes to skillet. Serve immediately. Top with cheeses to your liking.

I’ve only recently started using the pasta water. Growing up, I’d heard that you’re “supposed” to use the pasta/potato water, but for what? A friend lent me a copy of Ginny’s Gems recently, and there was a bit in there about thickening sauces with your pasta water. Oh, so that’s it! Now I know. Knowing is half the battle. What’s the other half? I don’t know.

Gluten-free folks could probably just boil up more potatoes in lieu of any pasta.

Vegans could take a note from Cutting the Cheese, who recommended to me elsewhere to try this recipe here but with cannellini beans. I’m a recent convert to cannellinis, as youse all saw with kale-stuffed sweet potatoes, but I’m inclined to agree that cannellinis would be great in Fennel Delight.

Ahem. Mommy’s Fennel Delight.

 

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About Erin McCole Cupp
Erin McCole Cupp is a wife, mother, and lay Dominican who lives with her family of vertebrates somewhere out in the middle of Nowhere, Pennsylvania. Her short writing has appeared in Canticle Magazine, The Catholic Standard and Times, Parents, The Philadelphia City Paper, The White Shoe Irregular, Outer Darkness Magazine, and the newsletter of her children’s playgroup. She is a contributor to CatholicMom.com and has been a guest blogger for the Catholic Writers Guild. Her other professional experiences include acting, costuming, youth ministry, international scholar advising, and waiting tables. When Erin is not writing, cooking or parenting, she can be found reading, singing a bit too loudly, sewing for people she loves, gardening in spite of herself, or dragging loved ones to visitors centers at tourist spots around the country. Find out more about her novels and other projects at erinmccolecupp.com .

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