A little good quality meat, a lot of vegetables, and a zing of fennel that’ll make your family’s tastebuds sit up and take notice. This quick but delicious pasta dish I learned in Sicily is a revelation and I’m really excited to share it with you. Sicilian sausages are often flavoured with fennel, but as I couldn’t find any like these in butchers and supermarkets near me, I added fennel seeds instead whilst cooking and the end result tastes just as good. You can add less if you want to introduce the flavour more gently, but my 3 year old loved the taste and only frowned at a stray spinach stalk that escaped the blender. If you have spinach rebels in the house, then try carrot, courgette or any other veg instead, as long as its softened enough to whizz up. Let me know what you think!
Preparation time – 5 minutes
Cooking time – 30 minutes
Serves 2 adults and 2 children
(You’ll need a hand held blender or food mixer)
pasta (60-80g per adult portion) I think fusilli spirals work best with this sauce
4-6 top quality pork sausages
1 small onion or a couple of shallots finely chopped
1-2 teaspoons of fennel seeds
spinach – a big handful per person
crème fraîche (optional)
1. Bring a pan of water to the boil and cook pasta till al dente. Meanwhile in a second largish pan (that has a lid to use later), gently fry onion until translucent.
2. Score the sausages lengthways with a sharp knife. Then hold them for a couple of seconds under cold running water. This makes it dead easy to pop them out of their skins. Throw skinless sausages into the pan and use a wooden spoon to break them up into smaller pieces as they cook. Add fennel seeds.
3. When the sausage meat is cooked through, take out a couple of dessert spoonfuls and set aside. Then chuck the spinach into the pan on top of the rest of the meat and stick the pan lid on. In a few minutes the spinach will have wilted and softened. Give it a good stir through until all spinach leaves look like pond slime (I’m partial to an accurate description!).
4. Next take your blender and lightly blitz the spinachy meaty mixture. Don’t puree it though. Afterwards, add back in the spoonfuls of crumbly sausage meat you set aside before. I think this adds nice texture, and kids like picking the sausage bits out. Add a dollop of crème fraîche if you like. Then tip cooked pasta into the sauce so its all beautifully coated.