- Salt and pepper
- 1 pound penne rigate
- 3 tablespoons EVOO
- 1/4 pound bacon or pancetta, chopped
- 1 bulb fennel, chopped
- 1 onion, chopped
- 3 - 4 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 can (28 oz.) italian plum tomatoes
- 1/2 cup dry vermouth or white wine
- A few leaves basil, torn
- Grated pecorino-romano or parmigiano-reggiano, for serving
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt it, add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water.
In a saucepan, heat the EVOO over medium-high heat. Add the bacon (or pancetta) and cook until crisp, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the fennel, onion, garlic, bay leaf, crushed pepper and fennel seeds; season with salt and pepper. Partially cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the fennel and onion are softened, about 10 minutes.
Stir in the tomato paste, then the tomatoes, crushing them with a spoon. Stir in the vermouth and basil; simmer for 10 minutes.
Add the pasta and reserved pasta water to the sauce; toss to combine. Serve topped with the cheese.