Dinner Tonight: Spicy Spaghetti with Fennel and Herbs

Dinner Tonight

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[Photographs: Nick Kindelsperger]

All I had to do was read the title of this recipe before I knew I'd be making it for dinner. Flipping through the most recent issue of Bon Appétit, without much belly hunger due to the gluttonous holidays, this pasta stuck out.

It's kind of like a deconstructed Italian sausage recipe.

Pairing fennel and fennel seeds with some fiery chiles, it sounded like a rather healthy vegetable-laden dish with just a hint of spice that would get me back on the right diet. But what it actually tasted like—once the bacon, fennel, and chiles are all mixed together—was Italian sausage. Hear me out on this.

Fennel seed is one of the most dominant spices in Italian sausage, the chiles help mimic the kick, and the bacon adds the crucial porky edge. Though I hate to use the word, it's kind of like a deconstructed Italian sausage recipe.

This is one of those "sauce-less" pasta dishes I love so much. Instead of a sauce that sits atop a mound of pasta, the sauce seeps into the pasta and the two become one. Each bite is slightly spicy and herbal from the the double dose of fennel. The broth helps give it the creamy texture and the lemon juice cuts through the bacon fat.