Caramelised Fennel and Sausage Pasta

Sometimes all you need is a big bowl of beige and this caramelised fennel and sausage pasta delivers both on taste and comfort. Fennel is woefully underrated. It normally has a mild anise or liquorice flavour but when you cook it like this, it loses those notes and becomes quite sweet. All this to say that if you don’t ordinarily like fennel, there’s still a strong chance you’ll love this dish.

  • Author: zenak
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 4 1x



For the fennel fronds crumb (optional):

  • 50g day-old bread
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 fennel bulbs, fronds only, roughly chopped

For the pasta:

  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • 400g good-quality sausages, casings removed
  • 2 fennel bulbs, thinly sliced (save the fennel fronds)
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • ½ tsp chilli flakes
  • 75ml white wine
  • 200ml chicken stock
  • 200g crème fraîche (or mascarpone)
  • 80g parmigiano reggiano, grated
  • 400g dried pasta of choice


  1. If making the fennel fronds crumb, blitz the bread into coarse breadcrumbs using a food processor.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan set over a medium heat. Add the breadcrumbs and cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes, or until crisp and golden. Add the fennel fronds and cook, stirring often, for a further minute, then transfer to a plate for later.
  3. Heat a splash of extra-virgin olive oil in a large Dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed pot over a medium heat. Add the sausage meat and crumble it up using a wooden spoon. Cook, stirring frequently, for 7 to 10 minutes, or until cooked through and browned.
  4. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the sausage meat to a plate, leaving the oil in the pan. Add the fennel and onion, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and caramelised, around 30 minutes. As the vegetables release their moisture, you’ll be able to scrape up the brown bits at the bottom of the pan, which add lots of great flavour.
  5. Add the garlic, fennel seeds and chilli flakes and cook, stirring almost constantly, for 1 minute, then add the white wine and cook, stirring occasionally, until mostly reduced.
  6. Add the chicken stock and crème fraîche and return the sausage meat to the sauce. Season with salt and pepper and stir to combine. Simmer for 5 minutes, then remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the parmigiano reggiano.
  7. Cook your pasta in plenty of generously-salted water according to the package instructions, then drain, reserving some of the pasta cooking water.
  8. Return the sauce to the stove over a medium heat. Add the drained pasta and ladleful or two of the pasta cooking water. Toss until the sauce nicely coats the pasta, adding more pasta water as necessary.
  9. Divide between bowls, top with the fennel frond crumb then serve – enjoy!

Did you make this recipe?

Leave a comment below and share a photo on Instagram, tagging @zenaskitchen. I can’t wait to see what you’ve made!

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2 months ago

Can’t wait to make this! At what stage do you add the sausage back into the sauce?

Donna Goldstein
2 months ago

Absolutely sublime. I topped with a Smokey chipotle crust with fennel fronds – whole family wolfed it down 😋

Christian Huerta
2 months ago

Just made and it was delicious. Been following along on Instagram for a while and finally made one of your recipes.
Only complaints- this took me SO long. Wayyyy longer than 45 min. 45 min alone to caramelize the veggies. And, it never mentions when to add the sausage back, not a big deal but.

Tali G
2 months ago

Absolutely delicious – this will quickly become a staple meal in our house!!

Gabrielle Bryant
2 months ago

2 months ago

Amazing recipe! Saw it on instagram and made it tonight came out SO GOOD!!!!!