Based on a Mark Bittman recipe, from Kitchen Express.

I picked up some fennel seed just for this recipe.  I’ve been trying recipes with fennel, the vegetable, in them, because it’s a seasonal fall/winter vegetable, and because I like licorice, and fennel is supposed to be reminiscient of licorice (anise).

Maybe it is, is you loathe licorice.

As it is, I’m always a little let down by fennel.  Just a little.  “This could be Black Licorice.  Instead, it’s just fennel.”  And then I remember that it has to go with the rest of the ingredients.  Fennel.  It’s okay.  But it’s not black licorice.

So I have purchased the fennel seed.  Not with a lot of hope, mind you, but I’ll give it a go.  Ho-hum.

I saute the snausage.  I add the garlic.  I deglaze.  I add the fennel and tomatoes and garbanzos.

And…meh, it’s the blandest recipe I’ve had in a while.  But I’m throwing the recipe together out of memory, and I might have forgotten something, so I look the recipe up in the book.  Aha!  I have forgotten chili flakes and fennel seed.  Crap.  Didn’t I buy fennel seed, just for this recipe?

I can’t find any chili flakes (didn’t buy those), so I decide to use ancho chili powder, which is pretty mild and flavorful, because my stomach says it’s not up to cayenne or chipotle today, thanks.

And then I grind the fennel seeds in my mortar and add them.

Fantastico.  I can’t tell you what the flavor is like, because it’s not black licorice any more than fennel bulbs are.  But if you ever want to sell someone on fennel, use this recipe.

Snausage and Fennel

1 lb small noodles
1 lb (3 large links) sausage (Italian, Portugese, something with garlic. I used “Linguisa” from Sunflower)
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 bulb fennel, sliced very thin, with stems and fronds
1 can of very good diced tomatoes
1 can garbanzo beans, skins rubbed off
Red wine vinegar
Salt
2 t ancho chili powder
2 T fennel seeds, crushed to a powder

Heat a large pot of salted water to a boil and make the noodles.

Cut the sausage out of its casings and brown it over medium-high heat, breaking it into bite-sized chunks. Add the garlic and chili powder and saute until the garlic is translucent. Add a few tablespoons of red wine vinegar and deglaze the pan, then add the tomatoes, garbanzos, fennel bulb, and fennel powder. Cover, lower the heat, and simmer for a few minutes.

Serve the sauce over the noodles with grated Parmesan or other hard cheese. You won’t believe it’s that good; you’ll be walking around telling people, “Try this! It’s that good! Can you believe it? It’s fennel! Not kennel, fennel!”