Friday, February 6, 2009

Penne with Roasted Fennel and Goat Cheese

I had hoped that my first actual recipe entry to this blog be something amazing, seasonal and delicious, and although I had the highest hopes for last nights dinner, it didn't turn out exactly as planned. I had two beautiful heads of fennel from last week's FFTY delivery that needed to be used, and after doing a little research I found a few recipes that paired roasted fennel with sundried tomatoes and goat cheese so I decided to create a whole wheat penne dish using those ingredients. As it turned out the sundried tomatoes I had on hand were a tad over-the-hill and unusable, so I substituted fresh (out of season I know, but it's always summer somewhere) and added some grilled chicken strips for a little protein.

Whole Wheat Penne with Roasted Fennel and Goat Cheese

2 bulbs fennel
2 medium tomatoes
6 oz grilled chicken strips (I just use the frozen bagged ones from Costco)
2 cups whole wheat penne
Zest and juice of one lemon
1/4 cup fresh basil
1/4 cup fresh parsley
2 oz goat cheese
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper

Get a large pot of water boiling over the stove. When water is boiling add 2 cups whole wheat penne pasta. Cook al dente.

While pasta is cooking, cut fennel bulb into quarters then into 1/2 inch slices. Arrange on a baking pan and lightly coat with olive oil (I used my handy misto) salt and pepper. Roast for 10 minutes at 425 degrees, flip and roast on the other side for another 5 minutes or so. Remove from oven. Once fennel has had a little time to cool, remove the core and separate fennel slices. Place slices in a large, shallow bowl.

Chop tomato, basil and parsley. Add tomatoes, basil and half the parsley to the bowl, reserving the other half for garnish. Add lemon zest and lemon juice, stir. Add cooked pasta, grilled chicken breast and olive oil, fold together. Last, add the goat cheese and fold in. Garnish with parsley and fennel fronds if you have them. Serve with salad greens with a light vinaigrette.

So even though I got compliments from Ryan and my bother (who just started a job in the area and is staying with us for the week) about the fresh light flavors of this dish, I was a little disappointed. Working with fennel is new to me and when it came out of the oven it tasted so good, sweet and soft and a bit anisey, and I wished I could have done something with the rest of the dish that highlighted it a little more. As it was I felt it got lost with too many other flavors in the dish.... I was thinking maybe next time I should sautee it with some onion and either add it to pasta or put it on top of a pork chop. If anyone has some suggestions on a great way to use fennel that really highlights its unique flavor, I'd love to hear them.

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