I like to use a variety of different shapes of pasta to make my dishes more interesting. Here I suggest using campanelle, which translates as “little bells.” Campanelle carry the sauce well and have an interesting texture. Blanching the fennel in the pasta water adds extra flavor to the pasta. You could also make this with scallops or shelled lobster meat instead.
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for the pasta water
- 1 medium fennel bulb, trimmed, quartered, plus 1/2 cup chopped reserved tender trimmings and fronds
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- 4 cloves garlic, crushed and peeled
- 1 pound medium shrimp (about 40 to 50), shelled, deveined, tails removed, and cut in half crosswise
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 medium leek, white and light-green parts, halved crosswise and thinly sliced
- 1 pound campanelle
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the fennel quarters, and simmer until they just begin to become tender, about 5 to 7 minutes. Drain the fennel, and rinse under cold running water until cool enough to handle. Cut out the core section from each piece of fennel, then cut the fennel crosswise into 1/4-inch strips. Chop and reserve 1/4 cup tender fennel fronds. Return the water to a boil for the pasta.
Add the olive oil to a large skillet over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the garlic to the pan, and cook until golden brown, shaking the pan, about 3 minutes.
Increase the heat to medium high, scatter the shrimp in the pan, and season with the salt. Cook, tossing constantly, just until the shrimp turn pink, about 2 minutes. Remove the shrimp with a slotted spoon to a small bowl.
Over medium heat, add the butter to the skillet. When the butter is melted, add the leek. Cook until it just begins to wilt, about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, add the pasta to the boiling water. Once the leek has wilted, add the fennel and red pepper flakes. Stir to coat the fennel in the butter, then add the white wine. Simmer until the wine is reduced away, then ladle in 1 cup of the pasta cooking water. Simmer until the sauce is reduced by half and the fennel and leeks are very tender, about 8 minutes. Stir in the fennel fronds and the reserved shrimp.
When the sauce is ready and the pasta is al dente, remove the pasta with a spider directly to the sauce. Toss to coat the pasta with the sauce. Remove the skillet from the heat, drizzle with a little olive oil, toss again, and serve.