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.
Recipe courtesy Mario Batali