I’ve been feeling blue. So after work I felt like I needed something comforting, delicious, easy, and new. What I dreamt up while shopping fortunately came out to be all four.
Bucatini with Roasted Fennel, Pancetta, and Manchego
Put on some water for your pasta (I used some handmade bucatini that a local grocery store makes. Its fat long softness was perfect. But boxed penne or something like that would work, too.)
Slice a fennel bulb, toss in olive oil and salt, and roast in a 400 degree oven until tender and browned (it doesn’t take that long - roughly fifteen minutes).
Dice and fry some pancetta until golden. Throw in a clove of garlic and cook for another minute or so.
Add a half-pint of cream and let it gently bubble for fifteen minutes or so. Add some chunks of manchego and let the cheese melt. Throw in your fennel whenever it’s finished roasting. Salt and pepper to taste.
Cook your pasta. When it’s finished, add a spoonful of the pasta water to the sauce. Drain the pasta, and swirl it around in the cream sauce. Diced fennel fronds look nice on top.
Obviously, serve right away.
With the pasta I had a couple of glasses of a good table wine, the 2010 Monferrato Rosso, which was blended by the ultimate wine importer Kermit Lynch, who also wrote a lovely book about wine that I recently read. It's a cheerful straightforward Piedmont wine, a little like an Italian farmer who just got back from a trip to France with a few stories to tell. (I’m still trying to come up with a better way of talking about wine . . .) It’s probably not the kind of wine that I’d think to pair with the pasta, but it was what I had, and it was more than sufficient to the task.