Spring Fregola Sarda Pasta with Crispy Oyster Mushrooms, Chervil & Fennel Pollen

Spring Fregola Sarda Pasta

with Crispy Oyster Mushrooms, Chervil & Fennel Pollen

Group Created with Sketch. 25 min
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  • icon-servings Created with Sketch.
    2 Servings
  • icon-nutrition Created with Sketch. Est. 770 Cals/serving

With its pleasant, anise-like sweetness, fennel has long been an essential ingredient in Italian cooking. Here, we’re using fennel in two ways—sautéing the bulb with garlic to form the aromatic base of the dish, then garnishing it all with a pinch of the plant’s sweet pollen. With fregola sarda pasta (pearls of toasted semolina), woodsy oyster mushrooms and fresh chervil, this seasonal meal is rich with delicious, rustic flavors.

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Prepare the ingredients:
1 Prepare the ingredients:

Wash and dry the fresh produce. Heat a medium pot of salted water to boiling on high. Tear the mushrooms into bite-sized pieces. Cut off and discard any fennel stems. Halve the fennel bulb lengthwise; cut out and discard the core, then small dice the bulb. Peel and mince the garlic. Using a peeler, remove the yellow rind of the lemon, avoiding the white pith; mince the rind to get 2 teaspoons of zest (or use a zester). Quarter and deseed the lemon. Remove and discard the larger chervil stems.

Cook the pasta:
2 Cook the pasta:

Add the pasta to the pot of boiling water and cook 14 to 17 minutes, or until tender. Reserving ½ cup of the pasta cooking water, drain thoroughly. Set aside in a warm place.

Cook & drain the spinach:
3 Cook & drain the spinach:

While the pasta cooks, in a large pan, heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil on medium-high until hot. Working in batches if necessary, add the spinach; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, 2 to 3 minutes, or until wilted. Transfer to a strainer; hold or rest over a bowl. Using a spoon, press down on the cooked spinach to release as much liquid as possible; discard the liquid. Transfer the drained spinach to a cutting board; finely chop. Wipe out the pan.

Brown the mushrooms:
4 Brown the mushrooms:

While the pasta continues to cook, in the pan used to cook the spinach, heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, 8 to 10 minutes, or until browned and crispy. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate, leaving any browned bits in the pan; immediately season with salt and pepper to taste.

Cook the aromatics:
5 Cook the aromatics:

Add 2 teaspoons of olive oil to the pan used to brown the mushrooms; heat on medium-high until hot. Add the fennel; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, 2 to 4 minutes, or until lightly browned and softened. Add the garlic; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, 1 to 2 minutes, or until fragrant.

Finish & plate your dish:
6 Finish & plate your dish:

To the pan of aromatics, add the cooked pasta, chopped spinach, butter, lemon zest, the juice of all 4 lemon wedges and half the reserved pasta cooking water. Cook, stirring vigorously, 1 to 2 minutes, or until well combined. (If the sauce seems dry, gradually add the remaining pasta cooking water to achieve your desired consistency.) Season with salt and pepper to taste. Divide the finished pasta between 2 dishes. Top with the browned mushrooms. Garnish with the cheese, chervil and fennel pollen. Enjoy!

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1 Prepare the ingredients:

Wash and dry the fresh produce. Heat a medium pot of salted water to boiling on high. Tear the mushrooms into bite-sized pieces. Cut off and discard any fennel stems. Halve the fennel bulb lengthwise; cut out and discard the core, then small dice the bulb. Peel and mince the garlic. Using a peeler, remove the yellow rind of the lemon, avoiding the white pith; mince the rind to get 2 teaspoons of zest (or use a zester). Quarter and deseed the lemon. Remove and discard the larger chervil stems.

2 Cook the pasta:

Add the pasta to the pot of boiling water and cook 14 to 17 minutes, or until tender. Reserving ½ cup of the pasta cooking water, drain thoroughly. Set aside in a warm place.

Cook the pasta:
Cook & drain the spinach:
3 Cook & drain the spinach:

While the pasta cooks, in a large pan, heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil on medium-high until hot. Working in batches if necessary, add the spinach; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, 2 to 3 minutes, or until wilted. Transfer to a strainer; hold or rest over a bowl. Using a spoon, press down on the cooked spinach to release as much liquid as possible; discard the liquid. Transfer the drained spinach to a cutting board; finely chop. Wipe out the pan.

4 Brown the mushrooms:

While the pasta continues to cook, in the pan used to cook the spinach, heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, 8 to 10 minutes, or until browned and crispy. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate, leaving any browned bits in the pan; immediately season with salt and pepper to taste.

Brown the mushrooms:
Cook the aromatics:
5 Cook the aromatics:

Add 2 teaspoons of olive oil to the pan used to brown the mushrooms; heat on medium-high until hot. Add the fennel; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, 2 to 4 minutes, or until lightly browned and softened. Add the garlic; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, 1 to 2 minutes, or until fragrant.

6 Finish & plate your dish:

To the pan of aromatics, add the cooked pasta, chopped spinach, butter, lemon zest, the juice of all 4 lemon wedges and half the reserved pasta cooking water. Cook, stirring vigorously, 1 to 2 minutes, or until well combined. (If the sauce seems dry, gradually add the remaining pasta cooking water to achieve your desired consistency.) Season with salt and pepper to taste. Divide the finished pasta between 2 dishes. Top with the browned mushrooms. Garnish with the cheese, chervil and fennel pollen. Enjoy!