I confess that I was never a big fan of fennel or fennel seeds. But tastes do change over time and I’ve come to appreciate both. We got fresh fennel from our local CSA, The Produce Box, and there is just something about getting fresh, local produce. I know this isn’t always feasible for everyone; but I think more people are now recognizing the value in local produce and farmers markets. It’s great quality, fresh produce, and you’re supporting a local farmer. Fennel is used in many Italian dishes, so I decided to use it in this recipe. Fennel seeds are usually associated with a sausage type of flavor, and they really did add the nice boost of flavor to the lentils and mushrooms. The light sauce and vegan parmesan tie it all together. Rigatoni is a nice bold pasta that holds sauce very well. Savory and delicious. Buon appetito!
Heat the olive oil on medium to high heat in a large saute pan. Add in the fennel and garlic. Sautée for five minutes or so until tender. Add in the mushrooms and continue to cook until they are tender. Add in the lentils, fennel seeds, salt and pepper. Then add the wine and milk, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes or until it starts to thicken. While that is cooking, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add in a tablespoon of sea salt and cook the pasta according to package instructions. When the pasta is done cooking, drain and add to the pan of sauce. Turn off the heat and coat the pasta in the sauce. Add the parsley and parmesan and season with more salt and pepper if needed.