• Karine Wlasichuk

'What is Fennel Anyways?' a Creamy Mushroom, Sausage and Fennel Penne Dish

Updated: May 1, 2020

Every so often, I throw fennel in my grocery cart (which I order online nowadays because our baby couldn’t be bothered with waiting in line at a store) and I constantly tell myself ‘this is great, it’ll be delicious and creative’, although I never have a clue of what to do with it and how to even eat it- let alone prepare it. So, on more occasions than I care to admit, it went bad and was not used. Yet I would buy some the following week. A very interesting vicious cycle type of story. SO, today’s recipe is brought to you (more so inspired by, I will link his at the bottom!) by chef David Rocco, I simply recreated his recipe with my own ingredients at home- I used different types of mushrooms, sauce and pasta but he still taught me how to use the darn vegetable! I never use that word. Not sure why this happened.

Which brings me to a little fun rant which applies to recipes and photography (feel free to skip to the yummy part): why do people constantly post pictures that aren’t theirs and never say where they’re from? It’s definitely not yours? I recently starting unfollowing accounts who post so-called ‘inspo’ pictures but never tell you where they got them. Guess what? There’s a photographer behind it, and my guesses are he/she doesn’t like you. There is a fine line between ‘inspiration’ and stealing, and I didn’t get on this platform to watch your lack of creativity and personality unfold (at this point it's more of an Instagram rant, I like to follow people I know or people showing us around their city/country or jobs, I don't care for all the random shots that aren't yours). We were taught not to plagiarise and paraphrase in university, yet nobody cares about it when it comes to art- I may have written forensic psychology or political essays, I still see that a photographer's work is theirs and you have to buy the rights to their work. For example, although many recipes are just known by everyone and prepared in different ways (nobody has a copyright on lasagna as far as I’m concerned), this one specifically – although I changed most ingredients- was majorly inspired by someone else’s work and I don’t find it fair to pretend I came up with it. I do consider myself very creative in the kitchen and 99% of my recipes are just me running through aisles and making them up in my head as I stare at food. However, I literally did not know how fennel was used 2 days ago. So be fair and honest (honesty is sooo sexy!) it’s not that hard. Rant over, not sorry, not one bit.

Back to the fennel: if you never had like me, when you throw a chopped fennel's bulb in a hot pan and toss it around, your kitchen is overcome by this delicious liquorice smell, it's a great complement to the earthy mushroom taste in the dish! Here we go:

You will need,

Beef Broth (1 cup)

Milk (1/2 cup)

Cremini Coffee mushrooms (1 pack)

King Oyster mushrooms (1 pack)

Garlic (4 cloves)

Sea salt (used a basil infused one today)

Black pepper

Fennel bulb (1)

Olive oil

Fresh dill (1/2 bunch- to complement the fennel leaves)

Italian sausages (3)

As always, of course, this can easily be a vegetarian recipe without the sausages and vegan by switching out the milk and beef broth for a veggie broth and nutritional yeast/cashew milk.

Just a few steps,

1. To chop the fennel, you want to discard of the bottom (just a thin slice), cut off the top parts and slice the bulb in half (keep the leaves to garnish later!), then you want to get rid of the hard core, the bottom middle part (making a small triangle at the bottom of each half), discard of the first, dirty layer (or simply peel a layer off if it looks rather clean) and then chop away!

2. Throw the minced garlic, sliced mushrooms and chopped fennel bulb in a pot on medium-high and stir while seasoning with salt and pepper until mushrooms are softened and fragrant and the fennel is almost translucent like a cooked onion (5-6 minutes)

3. Add the beef broth and keep stirring for an additional 2-3 minutes and slowly add the milk

4. Reduce heat between 3 and low (depending on your equipment, just make sure it's much closer to low than medium) and let simmer for another 5-7 minutes whilst sprinkling the dill- it will enhance the liquorice taste of the bulb

5. I typically like to let it simmer until there is only a little bit of liquid left (enough to coat all the penne once you add them and won't let your dish to be served dry)

6. So once you are happy with the consistency (you can enhance the heat if you wish for some of the liquid to evaporate faster), throw in the cooked penne and stir everything together

7. Serve each portion with a dash of fennel herbs as garnish (and extra dill if you're feeling artsy)

Here is the original recipe: as you can see I changed most of the ingredients and chose a beef broth-based sauce instead of Parmesan, but I want to give credit to the chef who helped me consider this sausage-fennel pairing! You can copy-paste this link if you wish:


Note: turning on the light changes everything about how you perceive a meal, but I love natural light- no matter how dim- better, I find it more poetic and romantic for some reason! So stormy winter days might make photos a little darker, I still find them more peaceful than blatantly bright lights.