I have a similar aversion to day time television as have the majority of its advocates towards ingredients such as anchovies, oysters and snails. This all encompassing judgement may at first appear inequitable and, in concert with the zeitgeist, it undoubtedly is…..so, for fuck sake, get over yourselves and just accept it. The previously mentioned ingredients together with fennel are long time inhabitants of that netherworld wherein reside the nemeses of “picky eaters”. Being of a contrary nature I’m forever tempted to include such ingredients when entertaining as I cannot help but imagine the querulous faces which will uncover those of a “picky” nature. However, such pleasures are for the most part denied me, as my wife is among that fastidious and exacting group. On the occasions when we are apart from each other I take the opportunity to enjoy some of those ingredients that would otherwise be unlikely to cross our threshold and now is such an occasion. And there I was watching daytime television. There is an excuse, indeed a watertight defence but I suspect that it will fall on deaf ears so I shall just push on to say that Nigel Slater was knocking up some linguine with fennel, shallots, basil and feta and I immediately pushed the “netherworld” button in my mental elevator which took me down to the Orphic supermarket where fennel and feta abounded…..basil didn’t abound so my version is basil free.
Fennel, shallot and feta linguine
Ingredients ( not amounts)
Slice the fennel and shallot and, in a thick bottomed frying pan, cook them slowly in olive oil. Remember, you’re not trying to caramelise the fennel, just to soften them. Meanwhile cook the linguine in heavily salted water ….Marcella Hazan has plenty to say on salting the pasta cooking water —“For every pound of pasta, put in no less than 1 1/2 tablespoons of salt, more if the sauce is very mild and undersalted. Add the salt when the water comes to a boil. Wait until the water returns to a full, rolling boil before putting in the pasta.” Now crumble the feta cheese into the pan of fennel and shallot ( and tear up some basil if you have some). When ready, combine the linguine with the contents of the frying pan.