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Spaghettini with Roasted Fennel & Mozzarella

  • 2 medium bulbs fennel, washed and trimmed
  • 1 head garlic, cloves peeled and , if large, halved
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds, chopped
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive-oil
  • 4 canned plum tomatoes, chopped (2/3 cup)
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried chile flakes
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 lb. of spaghettini
  • 1 cup loosely packed basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup fresh mozzarella, cut into cubes
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan

Heat the oven to 450 F. Cut the fennel bulbs into quarters through their cores. With a chef's knife, cut out each core, set the wedges cut side down, and cut them into 1/8 inch slices. In a shallow ovenproof dish or baking pan, toss the fennel with the garlic, fennel seeds, half of the olive oil, the tomatoes, chile flakes, salt and pepper. Spread the mixture evenly in the bottom of the pan. Roast without sirring until the fennel is limp and somewhat browned, 35 - 40 minutes. When the fennel is just cooked, cook the spaghettini until al dente, drain it and return it to its pot. Add the roasted mixture to the op and toss. Add the remaining olive oil. Tear the basil into pieces and add it to the pot. Just before serving, toss with the mozzarella and parmesan. Serve immmediately with extra parmesan on the table. Variation: I think I'll try it using montarey jack with jalpeno peppers and reduced amount of pepper flakes instead of mozzarella and pepper flakes.

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