Pasta with roasted fennel, lemon, and capers is a delicious combination! So simple and yet so sophisticated. If you are already a fennel lover, then you should definitely try this recipe. And if you don’t like fennel, or think you don’t, then you should try it too. Because this fennel pasta recipe even convinced me, a fennel opponent not that long ago. I am happy I gave this vegetable a try because it is too good to be missed. If you are searching for vegan recipes with fennel, then you should definitely give this one a try! It doesn’t matter if you prefer light or hearty food, as this homemade vegan fennel pasta is flexible and can be made both ways.
Fennel and I haven’t been friends for a long time. The somewhat extraterrestrial looking vegetable reminded me too much of the stomachache tea from childhood and the Greek headache schnapps from vacation (ouzo). Or the Indian fennel seeds “Pan Mukhwas” candied with sugar, which are served as a breath freshener after a meal. I will never forget when in a restaurant in India, the waiter quite naturally put the change in the “Pan Mukhwas” snack bowl. Mmmm, yummy.
Fortunately, I now know that I did the fennel an injustice. When the fennel bulbs literally smiled at me from the supermarket shelf, then I just had to know. After all, I also like the nursing tea, which contains fennel seeds, among other things, and which I drank in large quantities for a few months (fortunately it is tastier than ouzo). Fennel is now also part of my own bread spice mix and also joins many other spices in the super delicious chai syrup.
So the fennel landed in my shopping basket and later in my saucepan – or in the oven. Since I’m addicted to pasta, a mountain of spaghetti wasn’t far-fetched. I’ll tell you: delicious, this combination, pasta with fennel, but also with lemon, and capers, is a pleasure! So simple, yet so sophisticated at the same time. Speaking of pasta, spaghetti, simple, sophisticated, and delicious: Be sure to also check out this wonderful vegan avocado pasta recipe.
One great thing is that the fennel spaghetti is so easy to prepare! At first, I didn’t know at all what to do with a fennel bulb, how to clean fennel, what can and cannot be eaten, how to process or cook fennel, if you can add fennel to pasta sauce, how to cut fennel for pasta, etc. – nothing was clear to me. I always thought fennel was at least as complicated as artichokes. Luckily, the opposite is the case.
Pure and light or creamy and hearty
So far I have prepared this spaghetti con finocchi, capperi e limone, as it would be called in Italy, in two different ways: one with vegan cream and cheese and one without. And I have to say that both were wonderful!
The “pure version” without cream and cheese is perfect if you want a light meal. And/or because you avoid processed foods. It could also be eaten cold, as a fennel pasta salad (maybe then I would take a different pasta shape instead of spaghetti). The creamy fennel sauce version (which you can see in the photos, by the way) is more hearty, but still not heavy.
In the oven or out of the pan
Pasta with roasted vegetables is just too good! So far I have loved making pasta with roasted broccoli or asparagus, but also with mixed oven vegetables (in which fennel is now also roasted). Since my fennel enlightenment, fennel has been at the forefront.
Whether light or rich: I prepare the fennel in the oven. It can also be fried in a pan instead. It’s probably even faster. An advantage of the variant in the oven: You don’t have to stand next to it and make sure that nothing burns. Stir once or twice and it’s good. The great thing about the oven is that the fennel stews so nicely in its own juice.
I’m curious how you are going to prepare this fennel pasta, whether you were already a fennel fan before and whether you hope the dish tastes just as good. Please let me know in a comment.
- 1 kg (2.2 lbs) of fennel
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 5 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 1 small hand full of parsley, chopped
- 1 tbsp small capers
- 1 organic lemon, juice of and also the grated zest of half of the lemon
- 500 g (17.7 oz) pasta (e.g. spaghetti)
- ½ cup of the pasta cooking water
- dried chili flakes
- 1 tbsp (homemade) vegetable stock powder
- 1 tbsp vegan butter
- 200 ml (6.8 oz or 0.85 cup) of vegan cream
- a few tbsp of grated vegan cheese
- Preheat the oven to 200 °C.
- Remove the upper end of the fennel and the inner stalk and cut the fennel into approx. 0.5 cm thin strips. Keep a little of the fennel greens as an edible decoration.
- Put the fennel in a baking dish (the pieces may lie over another) together with the olive oil, garlic, parsley, capers, lemon (juice and zest), chili, salt, and pepper. Combine and bake for 20 minutes.
- While the fennel is in the oven, start cooking your pasta. If available, add a bit of vegetable stock powder to the cooking water. Some cooking water is used later, so it will have a little more flavor.
- Drain the pasta and collect half a cup of the cooking water.
- If you like to, add a piece of vegan butter to the cooked pasta (optional).
- After the fennel was in the oven for 20 minutes, add the pasta cooking water to the baking dish, stir, and bake for about another 15 minutes until the fennel is soft (some like it crisper, I prefer it the softie way). Switch off the oven.
- Now add the pasta, and, if the more hearty variant is on the program (which is my favorite, and also seen in the photos), also the cream and the grated cheese.
- Combine everything and leave it in the switched off-oven for a few minutes.
- Arrange on a plate and garnish with some fennel leaves.