Mostaciolli with Fennel and Bread Crumbs
- Salt, for the pasta water
- 6 tablespoons plus 3 to 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 heads fennel, tops removed and saved, cut into large dice
- 6 garlic cloves sliced very thin
- 1 cup plus 1/2 cup toasted bread crumbs
- 1 pound mostaciolli
- 1 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves, torn
- 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
Bring 6 quarts water to a boil and add 2 tablespoons salt.
In a 12 to 14-inch saute pan, heat the 6 tablespoons olive oil until smoking. Add the fennel, and cook, without stirring, until light golden brown and quite soft, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic, 1 cup of the bread crumbs and continue cooking 4 to 5 minutes.
Cook pasta according to package directions until just al dente and drain. Pour the hot pasta into the pan with a little of the cooking liquid, add the mint and some fennel fronds, and mix well. Pour into 4 warm serving dishes, and sprinkle with the remaining bread crumbs and fennel tops. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes, to taste. Drizzle with remaining olive oil and serve immediately.