Pasta has been around for centuries and it’s been a romantic myth that Marco Polo brought pasta back from China (it was already there in Polo’s time). Marco Polo returned in 1295 after twenty years of travel away from Italy. It was noted that in 1279 a Genoese soldier listed in the inventory of his estate a basket of dried pasta (‘una bariscella plena de macaronis’). The Chinese are known to have been eating a “noodle-like food” as early as 3000 BC. Marco Polo describes a starchy product made from breadfruit – hardly durum wheat. Dried pasta became popular through the 14th and 15th Centuries, as it could be easily stored on ships especially those setting out to explore the New World. More than likely, pasta was introduced during the Arab conquests of Sicily which was carried in as a dry staple. The first certain record of noodles cooked by boiling is in the Jerusalem Talmud, written in Aramaic in the 5th century AD. Fennel is a very good source of vitamin C (helps neutralize free radicals), fiber (help to reduce elevated cholesterol levels), folate (B vitamin) and potassium (a mineral that helps lower high blood pressure).
recipe from Good Taste
375g dried fettuccine
2 tablespoons olive oil
500g minced chicken
400g fennel bulb, trimmed, quartered and finely chopped
1 zucchini, ends trimmed and thinly sliced
1 garlic cove, crushed
300ml thickened cream
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
60g (3/4 cup) finely grated Parmesan
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Cook pasta according to packet instructions. Drain. Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium high heat. Add the mince and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring with a wooden spoon to break up any lumps for 4 minutes or until light golden. Add the fennel, zucchini and garlic. Cook for 2 minutes or until the vegetables start to soften. Add the cream, parsley and 40g (1/2cup) of the Parmesan. Cook for 2 minutes or until mixture comes to a boil. Add the pasta and lemon juice. Toss to combine. Divide among serving bowls. Top with remaining Parmesan.
The Culinary Chase’s Note: I love the flavor that fennel (a subtle anise aroma) adds to this dish. A meal ready to go in 30 minutes!