Fennel salami, also known as Finocchiona, is one of my all time favourite Italian ingredients. A lot of people are a bit scared of fennel. Often described as having an unusual aniseed-like flavour, it seems that this quality puts a fair few off even trying it. As a lover of anything and everything fennel flavoured, I just wish everyone would be opened minded enough to at least give it a go. I can guarantee that many more would love it than would hate it.
I use fennel a lot when cooking. Fennel seeds, fresh fennel, fennel salami, it’s just such an exciting and versatile flavour that compliments a lot more foods than you may think. Pork and fennel is probably the most famous flavour combination, which is probably why fennel salami tastes so god damn good. As well as using it with pork, I’ve also found that fennel goes amazingly well with lamb, Italian cheeses, salmon and prawns. I really could go on with that list, but for now we’ll stop at prawns seeing as this is the flavour combination being used for this dish.
Prawns and fresh fennel, or fennel seeds, being used together is not an uncommon pairing. The flavours compliment each other very well and are used in many Italian dishes together. This made me think, surely if fennel and prawns go so well together, then fennel salami and prawns must taste even better… and I was right! If you love the traditional flavour combination already then you’re definitely going to be a fan of this one, and if you’re still yet to try fennel, then this is a great dish to experience this amazing flavour for the first time.
160g fennel salami, roughly chopped
350g raw king prawns (de-shelled)
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 red chillis, finely chopped
2 tablespoons of fennel seeds
300ml white wine
16 cherry tomatoes, quartered
Salt and fresh black pepper
- First of all get yourself a large pan of salted water for the pasta and begin to boil.
- Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a separate large pan and fry the salami over a high heat until crisp. Once nice and crispy add in the garlic, chilli and fennel seeds and fry for a further minute.
- Pour in the white wine and bring to a boil. Reduce by around a third and then throw the cherry tomatoes in and turn down to a simmer. By this point your other pan should have reached a rolling boil. Add in your spaghetti and cook according to packet instructions (usually around 10 minutes for dried pasta).
- Spoon in some of the pasta water into your sauce through the cooking time if you feel the sauce needs to be loosened a bit. When your spaghetti is around 2 minutes from being cooked, through the raw prawns into your pasta sauce and turn up to a medium to high heat.
- Once the pasta is cooked drain it reserving a little more of the cooking liquid. Once the prawns are cooked pour in the spaghetti and mix through the sauce adding some of the cooking water if needed. Season with fresh black pepper and a little salt if needed- remember the fennel salami will be very salty.
- Spoon the spaghetti into large pasta bowls and drizzle a bit of olive oil on top. Beautiful!