Baked Penne with Fennel

Total Time:
30 min
15 min
15 min

6 servings

  • Kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for greasing
  • 1/2 pound pancetta, trimmed of excess fat and diced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 fennel bulb, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 1 28 -ounce can whole plum tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 12 ounces penne
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese (about 2 1/2 ounces)
  • 2 cups grated mozzarella cheese (about 8 ounces)
  • 1 3/4 cups grated fontina cheese (about 6 ounces)
  • Position a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 450. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring, until the fat renders, 2 to 3 minutes. Pour off the fat, leaving about 1 tablespoon in the pan. Add the onion and fennel and cook until the fennel is soft, about 5 minutes. Crush the tomatoes into the pan with your hands, then pour in the juices from the can and bring to a simmer. Fill the empty can with 1/2 cup of the boiling water and add to the sauce. Stir in the cream and simmer while you cook the pasta.

  • Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until al dente. Drain and add to the sauce. Stir in the basil and 1/2 cup parmesan. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil, season with salt and toss.

  • Oil a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Layer the pasta, mozzarella, fontina and the remaining 1/2 cup parmesan in the dish, alternating pasta and cheese. Drizzle with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Bake, uncovered, until browned and bubbly, about 15 minutes.

  • Per serving: Calories 757; Fat 45 g (Saturated 22 g); Cholesterol 117 mg; Sodium 939 mg; Carbohydrate 56 g; Fiber 6 g; Protein 33 g

  • Photograph by Antonis Achilleos

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4.5 13
Giada is my favorite! But sorry I did not care for this one. Followed the recipe exactly. item not reviewed by moderator and published
This was a big hit with the whole family! My husband was a bit skeptical about the fennel, but he said it was perfect, not the least bit overpowering. I added about 6oz each arugula and baby spinach when I added the basil because I'm always trying to sneak in more green veggies. I thought the extra green looked nice too. We' ll definitely have this again! item not reviewed by moderator and published
WOW! This dish will definitely be on the table at my next dinner party! Amazing flavors! I have never cooked w/ fennel bulb or fontina cheese before, but I will be using a lot of them in the future! The 30 minute prep is misleading...more like an hour w/all the chopping and shredding. Also, let the casserole rest for at least 30 min. after removing from the oven. Thank you FN! item not reviewed by moderator and published
Tried this last night, used one 5 oz. block of the fontina (which is half of what the cheesemonger told me I'd need. Didn't bother to measure the parmesan, just sprinkled it on. It was delicious! All the kids ate it too! item not reviewed by moderator and published
Easy and super tasty. It was very rich though so I will definitely try it with less cheese, half and half instead of heavy cream and less pancetta. Hopefully it will have the same flavor but be healthier. The fennel was amazing in it and cooked up very soft. Great for a crowd and to make ahead of time then pop in oven just before serving. item not reviewed by moderator and published
Made this tonight and my family loved it, even my 20 month old! All in all it was really easy and best of all it had wonderful flavor. This recipe is definately going on the favorites list! item not reviewed by moderator and published
My boyfriend and I made this. It was surprisingly really good. We had been trying a ton of new recipes and this is one of the best ones yet. It took us about forty minutes to make. We had never prepared fennel before so we had to search online to figure out how to use it. Finding fennel for this dish was the hardest thing for us. We went to four different grocery stores looking for it. Fennel is also called "anise". Just an FYI for anyone who's inexperienced with using fennel like we were. So enjoy! :) item not reviewed by moderator and published
Surprisingly great pasta dish! Skeptical at first b/c of the fennel, but definitely worth a try. I make once a month now and all of our friends have asked for the recipe. item not reviewed by moderator and published
This was super good and it got my super picky boyfriend to eat a new veggie. Keeper! item not reviewed by moderator and published
I have made this dish several times and it is always a hit. The fennel works perfectly in it. It is definalty a keeper! item not reviewed by moderator and published
This was a hit all around, exept for my very pickey 6.5 year old. The fennel gave a great flavor. It was gone quick. item not reviewed by moderator and published
This was my first time to use fennel and pancetta -- I made the recipe almost exactly as listed. I didn't use the half can of salty pasta water; instead I just used a half can of water. (I try not to add salt when I cook.) It was absolutely yummy. Cheese and meat prices add up though. item not reviewed by moderator and published
I made this dish last night--well, kind of a variation. It was my first time working with fennel and I couldn't be happier. I couldn't find my cheese grater so I just served it as regular pasta dish rather than a baked lasagna style dish. I added two links of sweet italian sausage that I removed from the casing and browned/crumbled because my boyfriend always wants to know where the meat is. Also, I used two spoonfuls of bacon fat instead of 1/2 pound of bacon. It was fabulous! I have some for lunch today and can't wait for it. item not reviewed by moderator and published

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