Shrimp and Fennel Angel Hair Pasta
If i’m being honest, I used to be terrified of fennel. That overly licorice flavor that’s present in raw, uncooked fennel is scary and slightly off-putting if you aren’t ready for it or used to it. But man is cooked fennel different.
I think raw fennel and cooked fennel are like step-siblings. They’re raised by the same people, live in the same house, come from the same place, but really just different. If you’re scared of fennel, it’s probably because you’ve had the raw variety. Don’t fret. This dish uses caramelized, cooked fennel that’s been sautéd with olive oil and lots of garlic. The flavor truly transforms into something really elegant. Also, the fennel and shrimp combination are just perfect together. Additionally, when you shave fennel, super duper thin, it gives it a chance to soak up all of that yummy olive oil and get perfectly cooked and soft. I highly recommend using a sharp knife to shave it, or to use a mandolin. I’ve personally been victimized by a mandolin before (think thumb being shaved off, gross, i know) so i stick to a sharp knife.
This recipe derives from a cooking demonstration that i watched when i visited The Culinary Institute of America in Napa, California. The chef demonstrated how garlic, fennel and shrimp work so well together and i’ve been in love with the combination since. The dish she created was a sauté of fennel, garlic and shrimp and did not have a sauce or spaghetti parred with it. So here i am, transforming a dish that i loved, into something i love even more.
For this dish i use angel hair spaghetti because it’s just the delicate balance that you need for such simple ingredients such as garlic, fennel and shrimp. Anything larger just becomes too clunky. With angel hair spaghetti, it’s extremely important not to overcook it. Remember that when you initially cook your spaghetti, it should be just under al dente because it’s going to be cooked again in the sauce and with the shrimp, garlic and fennel. I cooked my angel hair spaghetti for 2 minutes. that’s in. 2 minutes in already boiling water and remove it, strain it, run cold water over it and let rest until you’re ready to add it to your sauce. Overcooked angel hair spaghetti is tragic and just a ball of mush.
Also, overcooked shrimp is just as tragic. Do not. I repeat, DO NOT, overcook your shrimp. In fact, if you think you’re about to undercook it, if you remove it from the heat, you’ll probably be cooking it just enough. Remember that it will continue cooking even when it’s off the heat so a solid 5-7 minutes of sauté time is plenty. Especially since it’s going to be mixed with the spaghetti and sauce for one final round of cooking.
Give this recipe a try! Share your comments and some love. If you make this recipe and share it on social media, tag it with the hashtag #hungrilyhomemaderecipe
Total Time: 20 minutes
Yield: 4-5 adult servings
1. 8 oz of angel hair pasta (half of a package)
2. 1 lb peeled, deveined shrimp
3. 2 cups thinly shaved fennel
4. 3 tbsp olive oil
5. 4 cloves garlic, crushed
6. 4 tbsp salted butter
7. 1 cup white wine
8. 1 tsp red pepper flakes
9. 1 tsp salt
10. 2 cups arugula (***optional***)
1. Heat up a large skillet with your olive oil and add your shaved fennel to the skillet. Using a wooden spoon, stir occasionally to ensure all sides of the fennel get cooked. After 5 minutes of cook time, add your crushed garlic and sauté for another 5 minutes on medium-low heat. Turn the burner off after 10 minutes of sauté time for the fennel and set aside while you prepare your sauce and the spaghetti
2. Bring a pot of salted water to boil. Once your water is boiled add in your spaghetti and carefully stir. Allow to cook in the boiled water for 2 minutes. After 2 minutes, check to ensure the pasta is al dente and remove from the heat. Strain, run cold water over the strained pasta and set aside while the sauce cooks
3. To prepare the sauce, melt your butter in a sauce pan and add your wine once the butter has melted. Allow the butter and wine to simmer at a medium-low temperature and add your red pepper flakes and salt after 3-5 minutes of simmer time for the sauce. Simmer for another 5 minutes with the red pepper and salt and remove from the heat.
4. Re-heat your sauté pan with fennel and garlic and once it begins to sizzle, add your shrimp to the pan and sauté for 5-7 minutes or until the shrimp changes color to a light pink and remains springy to the touch. Do not over cook during this step. Even if all of the shrimp do not appear completely cooked, still remove from the heat at the 5-7 mark. We will be cooking it all again with the spaghetti and sauce.
5. Combine your components together by adding your spaghetti to your large skillet with the fennel and shrimp, followed by your butter and wine sauce. Sauté together for 3-4 minutes or until the sauce has been absorbed by the pasta over medium-high heat. Remove from the heat and serve immediately! You can toss in a handful of arugula once you’ve removed the pasta from the heat. Just add a handful and toss in with tongs!