In-Season Recipe


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Licorice – It is a flavor that I enjoy in my candy, but not something like to taste in my carbonara. That was my initial perception when I was first developing this recipe. But, I have since changed my mind. When you bite into a raw fennel stalk, you get a strong, almost overpowering, anise flavor. However, properly roasted, the taste of fennel becomes subtle, sweet, with just a hint of licorice flavor that melts in your mouth. With some crispy garlic, chili flakes, and black pepper for seasoning, this pasta carbonara is something you have to try.

Fennel is part of the carrot family. The stalks and leaves are edible but it’s the bulb that we use in this recipe. The vegetable offers high levels of vitamin C, iron, potassium, and fiber. The plant’s peak growing season is in the fall and winter (right now!).

When buying fennel look for small but heavy bulbs that are firm and free of cracks. Any browning or moist areas around the bulb means they are not fresh. Stalks should be crisp, and the fronds should be feathery. As the fennel dries out, it begins to lose flavor. Store it in the vegetable container of your refrigerator and use it within a few days.


Serves: 4
Prep Time: 50 min
Cook Time: 5 min

  • 1 fennel bulb
  • 1 small onion
  • Oil for roasting – Preferable: non-extra virgin olive oil, sunflower seed oil, avocado oil, vegetable oil
  • 3 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 4 servings of pasta (this recipe uses: Ziggy’s Linguine)
  • 6 egg yolks and 2 whole eggs
  • 50g parmesan cheese finely grated + more for serving
  • 2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon chili flakes
  • ½ cup of pasta water
  • Salt to taste
  • Baking tray
  • Parchment paper
  • Non-stick frying pan
  • Mixing bowl

Part 1 – Roasting the Fennel – Discover a wonderful source of fennel seeds from William Dam in Dundas, Ont.

    1. Pre-heat oven to 450 F (232 C)
    2. Similar to how you cut an onion – prepare the fennel by cutting off the stalks closer to the fennel bulb. Then trim off the bottom of the bulb (the hard root bits).
    3. Cut the fennel bulb in half, then make thin slices from the side of the bulb ¼ inch in thickness. Place into a large mixing bowl.

    Chopped fennel on a cutting board

      1. Peel and cut the small onion into similar size slices as the fennel. Place into the same mixing bowl as the fennel.

    Chopped onion on a cutting board

    1. Add 3 teaspoons of roasting oil of your choice into the mixing bowl. Roasting oil should have a smoke point higher than 450 F.
    2. Add 1 teaspoon of freshly ground pepper.
    3. Add ½ teaspoon of salt.
    4. Mix ingredients gently so oil and seasoning cover the fennel and onions.
    5. Place onto a parchment paper-lined baking tray. Roast at 450 F for 40 min or until edges begin to caramelize.

    Roasted fennel on a baking sheet

    Part 2 – Crispy Garlic – Check out Kipp Garlic Farm in Lethbridge, Alta.

    Crispy Canadian garlic is delicious, easy to make and an amazing accent for many dishes. The garlic-infused oil can be saved from this recipe and used in future cooking endeavours.

      1. Peel 6 cloves of garlic. Do not smash them.
      2. Make thin slices of garlic about 1-2 mm in thickness. Place into a small frying pan.

    Chopped garlic on a cutting board

      1. Submerge the garlic in vegetable oil.
      2. Place the frying pan on the stove element on high. Heat until the oil begins to bubble. Remove from the element. Leave the garlic for a few minutes as they become crispy.

    Chopped garlic cooking in a frying pan on a stove

    1. After the garlic is crispy – drain the oil into a small container. We will use it to fry the fennel and pasta later.

    Part 3 – Pasta – Check out more pasta recipes at Catelli Canada

      1. To cook pasta, follow the instructions on the package until al dente in salted water.
      2. Save ½ cup of pasta water.
      3. Strain pasta and run cold water through to prevent sticking and to stop the cooking process.

    A pot of pasta cooking on a stove

    Part 4 – Carbonara Sauce – Get Cracking for more Canadian egg recipes

        1. In a Heat Resistant mixing bowl whisk 6 egg yolks, 2 whole eggs, 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, and thinly grated Parmesan cheese together.
        2. To prevent the eggs from curdling while mixing the pasta, we use the double broiler method. (See below).

      A bowl of carbonara sauce ingredients being whisked with a fork


    Part 5 – Putting the Fennel and Garlic Carbonara Together

      1. Using the pasta pot, heat up 2-3 inches of water at medium heat. This will be used later for the double boiler method.
      2. In a frying pan, heat up 2 tablespoons of the garlic oil made previously.
      3. When oil is hot, add a few roasted fennel pieces and pasta to the frying pan and toss with rubber or wooden tongs.

    Pasta being tossed in a frying pan on a stove

    1. Season with chili flakes, crispy garlic, pepper and salt to taste.
    2. Place carbonara sauce on top of the water pot for the double boiler method.
    3. Quickly add the contents of the frying pan, the ½ cup of pasta water, and extra-virgin olive oil to the double boiler. Stir and toss well. You will know it worked if there are creamy strings coming off the pasta while stirring.
    4. For presentation plating purposes. Use the tongs and a large spoon to twist the pasta around the tongs. Then place carefully onto a clean plate. Add a few pieces of fennel on the side. Serve with more black pepper and parmesan cheese to taste. Garnish with fennel leaf.

    Roasted Fennel and Garlic Carbonara on a plate

    Links to fennel producers:

    https://www.damseeds.com/collections/vfennel – Dundas, Ontario
    https://snowfarms.ca/product/fennel/ – Delta, BC
    https://www.fiddlehead-farm.ca/ – Prince Edward County, Ontario
    https://www.bcorganicfarmers.com/farms/myers/index.html – Aldergrove, BC
    https://steelpony.ca/ – Red Deer, Alberta

Check out our this amazing Lamb Saddle with Peas and Potato Salad Recipe by Chef Forrest Liu:

Try local Canadian lamb and Chef Liu’s festive recipe this holiday season

Farmwork to Feed Canada (F2FC) is a national volunteer not-for-profit initiative comprising Canadian communication professionals, students, and recent graduates in communications. F2FC collaborates with farmers, and agri-businesses amid COVID-19 pandemic-related challenges to Canada’s food supply and food security, to engage Canadians, pro bono, with compelling stories about their food system and build support for Canada’s farmers, food producers, and their essential skilled workers.

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