Fresh fennel along with the fennel seed in the spicy Italian sausage are a delicious addition to this pasta. Pecorino cheese gives this pasta dish an extra boost. This is an easy dish to whip up with unique flavors. Great for fall!
4 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Pound Italian sausage (I prefer the spicy version)
1 Medium onion (finely diced)
1 Small fennel bulb (halved, cored and thinly sliced)
1 Tablespoon dried sage
1 Cup chicken broth
1 Package penne
1 Cup (+more for serving) Pecorino cheese (grated)
1/2 Cup heavy cream (optional)
Put large pot of water on high heat and bring to a boil.
While water is heating, place 2 Tablespoons of the olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Brown sausage, drain and set aside.
To the skillet, heat the remaining 2 Tablespoons of olive oil, brown the onions. When onions are browned, stir in the fennel, sage and a little salt. Lower heat and cook until fennel is softened.
Add the sausage and chicken broth and simmer until heated through.
Add pasta to boiling and salted water. Cook until al dente. Drain, reserving approx. 1/2 cup of the pasta water.
Return drained pasta to pot over medium-high heat. Stir in sausage mixture until well combined. If you want your "sauce" a little creamy, add the heavy cream at this point. Remove from heat and add pecorino and black pepper. Use the reserved pasta water if you need to thin out the sauce to your preference.