I love having warm healthy vegetarian pasta dishes in these cold winter days. Especially with all the colorful veggies and fruits that are in season such as fennel, radicchio, apples and oranges.
I made the pasta kind of bitter and sweet, bitter like the winter which is cold, and sometimes it can be very lonely, dark or gloomy, like how I feel when I miss my family in Iran. My mom called me yesterday and told me that my father is missing me, he also asked my mom to cook a vegetarian pasta like the ones I used to cook for them. In September when they visited me in Italy, I made it my mission to introduce him to a healthier diet such as the vegetarian and vegan diets, after he lost his eyesight because of the meningioma. He used to get annoyed by the tomato sauce pasta, or simple cacio e pepe pasta, asking me or my mom for some Salami or prosciutto or sometimes he used to say in a very gentle and lovely way: please enough with all these nonsense veggies. <3
Then yesterday my heart broke when I heard that he actually misses my vegetarian dishes, how sweet is that! :)
That's why I made it sweet too, with honey, because despite all the dark and gloomy winters there will be always a plenty of warm wishes, happy moments & positive thoughts! And of course all the festive mood, the family gatherings, the wine drinking, the Christmas shopping, the gifts, the food, the love and the joy.
It's all there and It is for sure our bitter and sweet lives. Right?
For this recipe, I used Fennel, radicchio, red onions, honey, oranges, lime and some spices. It's NOT full VEGAN because of the butter, but skip that, and you will have a lovely warm vegan dish. You can also add some texture to it by toasting pine nuts or walnuts. Both works great. I wanted to add some grated apple too but I just forgot, if you like the idea, go for it.
Nothing more to say, you should just try it, as soon as you start cooking, the aroma of the fennel and the onions will take over your kitchen, and the orange and the lime.. ahhh! like heaven. Veggies are always a surprise.
Happy Cooking my friends, hope you enjoy the recipe as much as I did.
Serves 4 People
- 500 g Dried Pasta (I used Penne)
- 3 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 medium fennel bulb, finely sliced
- 2 red onions, finely sliced
- 1-2 tablespoon of Riviera olives and Its oil
- 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- zest and juice of 1 organic orange
- zest of 1 organic lime
- 2 teaspoon of honey (I used Miele di Bosco della Raia)
- 2 tablespoon of butter
- bunch of parsley leaves, finely chopped
- 1 medium radicchio rosso (Red Chicory), finely chopped
- 1/4 teaspoon grated Bengal black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
- Wash, peel and slice the veggies in advanced. Also bring to boil a big pot of salted water for pasta.
- In a big cast iron skillet or any other pan, heat some olive oil, add the finely sliced fennels, cook them on high medium heat until translucent and slightly golden.
- Add the red onions and the Riviera olives along with its oil, let them cook for 1-2 minutes, then squeeze half of the orange, and the zest of the lime. and continue to cook on medium-high heat.
- When the veggies changed color to golden, add the garlic, then pour the honey, stir, then add the butter and half of the finely chopped parsley. Continue to cook the veggies for another 2-3 minutes.
- Grate the Bengal pepper and sprinkle the fennel seeds, when the veggies changed colored to golden brown, turn the heat off or put it on very low.
- Add the pasta to the pot of salted boiling water, cook until al dente - drain, and add it to the veggies along with some tablespoons of its cooking water.
- Turn the heat to higher level, continue to toast the pasta, add the rest of the finely chopped parsley, fennel leaves and the radicchio and serve immediately.