Spaghetti with Turkey Sausage and Fennel

Adapted from Cooks Illustrated

This pasta dish packs more nutrition than initially meets the eye due to the high fiber spaghetti and small amount of meat, which is used just for flavor.

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 8 oz. sweet Italian turkey sausage, casings removed (about 2 links)
  • 1 fennel bulb, trimmed, cored and cut into thin strips
  • 3 large shallots, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • Kosher salt
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 4 teaspoons unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 pound whole wheat spaghetti
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • Heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. When the oil is just beginning to smoke, add the sausage and cook while breaking up with a spatula. Once meat is browned, about 4 to 5 minutes, remove from the pan and place on to a plate lined with paper towel to drain. Set aside.
  • Add the remaining teaspoon of oil to the skillet and once hot, add the shallots, fennel and 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt. Cook over medium-low heat for a minute or two, then cover and allow vegetables to soften, about 10 minutes. Remove the cover and stir in garlic and red pepper, stirring until fragrant. Add the flour to the pan and cook for one minute. Slowly add the broth and white wine, then bring to a simmer. Scrape up the brown bits as the mixture gradually begins to bubble. Reduce the sauce by about half. Sauce should be slightly thickened after 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and add the basil, pine nuts and lemon juice. Set aside.
  • While sauce is reducing and thickening, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add 1 tablespoon kosher salt and the spaghetti. Cook for 11 minutes, or according to package directions for al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup of cooking water, then drain in a colander. Return the pasta to the hot pot and add the sauce and the browned turkey sausage, tossing to coat. If the sauce seems a bit dry, add some of the pasta water until a desired consistency is reached. Taste the seasonings and add kosher salt and black pepper, if necessary. Top with grated Pecorino Romano and serve.
  • Quick Tips
  • 1. I’m not typically crazy about whole wheat pasta. I like the texture and flavor of Bionaturae Organic 100% Whole Wheat Spaghetti. I also think Barilla Plus Pasta makes a tasty variety.
  • 2. This dish is rather light because it uses very little meat for the amount of pasta and the whole wheat spaghetti adds fiber and nutrients. If you prefer to use traditional pasta, you will be missing some of the flavor elements and certainly the extra fiber, but it should still work out nicely.

Preparation time: 10 minute(s)

Cooking time: 45 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 4

2 responses to “Spaghetti with Turkey Sausage and Fennel”

  1. Nanda says:

    What do you do with the browner sausage? It doesn’t say.

    • Alicia says:

      Thanks for picking up on this, Nanda! This is a recipe I must have written up very late at night! I’ve edited it so it says where to add it. When you toss the pasta with the sauce, you add it back at that time. Enjoy!

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