Roasted fennel and salami pasta

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Raise your hand if you never want to eat turkey again. Anyone? Everyone? Okay then. Here is your antidote to all things stuffing, potato, and pumpkin-related.

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If you read my last post, you might be wondering if the turkey did, in fact, knock M out so that he slept away from home. (If you didn't read the last post or just don't care about my kid's sleep habits, I totally get it and you can skip to the recipe by scrolling to the next photo.) The short answer is, no. The longer answer is, we didn't really let him try. After a disastrous nap attempt, we decided to drive home that night instead of risking another all-nighter.,

I was definitely disappointed to head home so early and M was devastated, so it's gotten me thinking a lot about the danger of expectations as we head into the holiday season. Holidays with kids can be tough. They don't care that you've done the same magical thing for 10 years running. If they're tired or hungry or having a day for no reason at all, you just have to adapt.

For the past two years, that has often meant opting out of pictures with Santa and tree lightings because we knew that at 9-months and 21-months, M wouldn't really understand or appreciate them. And I struggled, especially seeing social media postings of others joyfully doing all of the things.

This year, M is older and more aware and so much more of a "kid." He understands holidays and wants to spend time with friends and family, so it feels like we'll be depriving him of something if we pull the plug due to an impending tantrum. He was SO sad to leave my parents' house after Thanksgiving that I worry about changing plans or setting him up by suggesting something if we can't follow through.

I think we'll try our best to be realistic about our plans and only share them judiciously with M. And we'll also try to be gentle with him and ourselves by acknowledging that this a season where everything is heightened in both good ways and bad. The calculus is always shifting about what's "worth it:" Our sanity versus making memories versus M's immediate happiness versus our overall health.

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Anyway, back to the food! I love roasted fennel so so much. I mostly hate the taste of licorice, but fennel is just a little bit anise-y and roasting it takes away almost all of that medicinal bite. We often put roasted fennel on pizza because its taste is satisfyingly meaty without adding any actual meat.

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I guess it's gilding the lily a bit to add meat to the roasted fennel, but the combo of roasted fennel and salami is top notch. I don't cook the meat at all because heat often turns cured meats a bit too gamey for my liking, but if that flavor is your jam, go ahead and saute the salami for a few seconds. 

I always use Marcella Hazan's famous sauce with a couple of small changes: I use less butter than she calls for. I also melt and slightly brown the butter and then saute the onion a bit before adding the tomatoes (she tosses everything together). The sauce is a perfect amount for about 10 ounces of pasta, but if you like a saucier dish, opt for 8 oz instead.

 

Salami and roasted fennel pasta

For the sauce:
1 can or box of crushed tomatoes (28 oz), or about 1.5 cups
2 Tbsp butter
1 small onion, peeled and halved

Melt the butter in a saucepan over a medium flame. Place the halved onion cut side down in the butter and let cook for 1-2 minutes, being aware of the butter and not letting it brown too much. Add the tomatoes, reduce the heat to medium low, and let simmer, stirring occasionally, for 40-45 minutes or until the sauce has thickened to your liking.

For the rest:
10 oz dry pasta (a little more than half of the box)
1 lb fennel
1-2 Tbsp olive oil
Salami

Preheat oven to 400. Wash fennel and chop into thin slices, trying to keep things as equal as possible. This will be difficult, so don’t sweat it too much. Toss with olive oil and roast for 20-25 minutes, until bits start to brown.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook pasta according to package directions.

When pasta is cooked, drain it and return to the pot. Cover with sauce and stir to combine. Add the roasted fennel and chopped salami and stir a few times to incorporate.

Yield: 6 servings

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