Are you ready for a deliciously simple summer recipe? Excellent. This tomato and fennel pasta will be a great addition to your weeknight menu or for your next picnic or barbeque.
Summer summer summertime. Time to sit back and unwind”
The wise lyrics of Will Smith and DJ Jazzy Jeff repeat in my head as I envision summer at its best and wonder, at the same time, how many of you have not heard of Will Smith and DJ Jazzy Jeff. Yes, I am dating myself here, but I am from the Fresh Prince of Bel Air era and love it.
Although we are thrilled that summer is finally here, we don’t want to spend long hours in a hot kitchen. Thankfully, recipes like this week’s Summer Tomato and Fennel Pasta will help you stay cool, spend less time in a hot kitchen, and more time enjoying your summer evenings.
This pasta dish is wonderful hot out of the pan, at room temp or cold from the fridge. If you are eating it straight out of the fridge (or maybe even with fridge doors open and your impatient fingers opening the container), maybe add some extra olive oil to moisten it up a bit and add back some flavor.
Another great thing about this tomato and fennel pasta recipe is that most, if not all, of the ingredients are pantry/fridge staples. So, this is another time for you to pause your reading of this AMAZING blog (just a little self-aggrandizing there) and check your kitchen for the items needed for this recipe.
Ingredients for Tomato and Fennel Pasta:
- Dried pasta
- Cherry tomatoes
- Butter/Olive Oil
Do you have it all? Excellent!
For the pasta selection I went with a brown rice farfalle by Jovial because one of my boys is still on a no grain/no dairy diet. You could go with whatever works for you family, though. You also don’t need to feel confined to the same shape of pasta I used. Although I like how the shape/texture works with the ingredients, this recipe is all about making things less complicated so use what you have on hand.
Even though I went with a box of multicolored cherry tomatoes, you can use whatever you have on hand or find at the grocery store. Since the color on these tomatoes was so striking, I opted for these guys.
Butter vs. olive oil? I like them both and so I used them both. The olive oil raises the smoke point of the butter a little, so it doesn’t burn and, even more importantly, they taste delicious together.
For the herbs, make life easy on yourself and throw them in whole. Add in the entire sprig of thyme and don’t fret over removing the individual thyme leaves. This imparts the thyme flavor just as well and makes this summer dish even easier. As for the basil, unless the leaves are huge, you can stir them into the pasta dish whole, as well.
In addition to the ingredients not being complicated, the cooking method is straightforward as well. Yippee!
The gist of the Tomato and Fennel Pasta recipe.
I wanted to call this One Pot Tomato and Fennel Pasta, but I couldn’t since I cooked the pasta in one pot and used a large sauté pan for everything else. Oh well, the recipe is still super easy and perfect for those summer evenings when you want very little clean up after your meal.
As you get your pot of water boiling, starting caramelizing your fennel and then add in your tomatoes. Once the heavily salted water is boiling and the pasta cooked, the veg should be done. Obviously, this magical timing works for those celebrity chefs on television, but one can dream, right?
Once the fennel and tomatoes are caramelized, keep them on low until the pasta is done. Rather than dumping your pasta into a strainer, use a slotted spoon and lift the pasta out of the pot and put directly into your sauté pan with the vegetables. This will keep some of the salty, starchy water with the pasta which helps create a sauce like mixture.
If the pasta mixtures seem too dry once you have added all the pasta to the tomatoes and fennel, ladle in some additional pasta water. The salty pasta water behaves like a thickener of sorts and adds more flavor to the pasta.
Eat, Relax, and Enjoy the Summer Evening!
Now that your simple Summer Tomato and Fennel Pasta dish is ready you can serve up your family and friends, pour some wine, and enjoy the warm summer evening. This is one of those great family style meals that you can all share. Don’t stress about fancy plating (like when do I ever do that?) or what it looks like. Just eat and enjoy!
Oh, and relish in the fact that there is very little cleanup. Hey, maybe you can get the kiddos to do the dishes while you enjoy one more glass of rosé? If this recipe helps make your summer a bit easier and more tasty, please let my know by leaving a comment below.
Summer Tomato and Fennel Pasta
- 12 oz dried pasta such as farfalle
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes sliced in half
- ½ large fennel bulb sliced thinly
- 3-4 sprigs of thyme
- 1 garlic clove
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- Pine nuts and basil for garnish
- Bring large pot of salted water to boil. Add in pasta and cook per packaged directions. If using fresh pasta, the cooking time will be much shorter.
- Heat large sauté pan over medium heat. When pan is hot, add in butter or olive oil. I like to use a combination of both. Once butter/oil is hot, but not smoking, add in fennel to caramelize.
- Allow fennel to caramelize for 3-5 minutes before adding in the sliced garlic, tomatoes, and sprigs of thyme. Stir to coat the veggies with the fat in the pan. If too dry, add additional olive oil or butter.
- When fennel is tender and caramelized, and tomatoes are bursting open and also caramelized, turn heat to low. Season with salt and pepper.
- Using a slotted spoon or pasta scooper, lift pasta from pot and put into sauté pan with veggies. Stir to combine over the low heat. If pasta seems dry, add some of the pasta water from the pot.
- Once combined, remove from heat. Stir in basil leaves and a small pour of olive oil if needed for flavor. Sprinkle with toasted pine nuts.
- Season pasta with additional salt and pepper, if needed. Enjoy!