Hills draped with green vineyards and olive plantations, roads lined with tall green cypress, open fields with striking yellow blooms, vast beautiful rolling fields of green and surrounded with hills and valleys,… no, I am not describing a landscape painting. I am recounting what I saw in the breathtaking Tuscany region of Italy.
You could see similar views in Tuscany, but that’s what we saw in Chianti, located between Florence and Sienna. We had a one-day visit to Chianti from Florence (our ‘home base’ in Tuscany). Our GPS navigator somehow instructed us to take narrow secondary roads. But it turned out to be great because we passed through breathtaking views, drove uphill and downhill through the beautiful valleys, and got really close to small farms and vineyards. (Our GPS navigator was a bit crazy, though. It suggested driving 90 kph along the narrow twists and turns! If you are not too careful, you could end up down the ravine.) Anyway, Chianti is made up of eight towns but we only visited two: Radda in Chianti and Castellina in Chianti. Both are worth visiting but Castellina is better. But I must say that both towns made our Tuscan scenic adventure complete!
Today, I cooked Roasted Fennel and Tomatoes Pasta, one of the dishes that I tried in Chianti. It looks easy because there are only four main ingredients: pasta, bell peppers, tomatoes and fennel. The difference is that the authentic version used fresh spinach tagliarni (egg noodle) while in my recipe, I used spinach fettucine (the only available spinach-based pasta in Giant Hypermart). This pasta is very healthy and refreshing at the same time. It is also very simple to cook and if you are budget-conscious, this one won’t hurt your wallet.
- 2 pcs Yellow bell pepper (Capsicum, firm ones)
- 275g Cherry or grape tomatoes, washed and halved
- 1pc mid Fennel, washed and thinly sliced
- Olive oil
- 4 springs Oregano, stems discarded and finely chopped
- Salt and pepper
- 300g Spinach fettuccine (preferably whole wheat)
- 50g Parmesan cheese, grated
- Set your oven to broiler mode and preheat to 200C (400F).
- Place the bell peppers on a baking tray.
- Let them roast for 15-20 minutes, giving a quarter turn every 5 minutes, until the bell peppers are charred and soft.
- Put the charred bell peppers in a bowl and cover it. Or let it rest for 3 minutes and put in a clean sealable plastic (Ziploc). Leave them for 10 minutes.
- Remove the skin of the bell peppers, the seed and slice into stripes. (Do not wash the bell pepper!)
- In a non-stick pan and low heat, sauté the tomatoes, fennel and 2 tbsp olive oil for about 5 minutes.
- Sprinkle the oregano, salt and pepper then drizzle the remaining olive oil.
- Put the pan into the oven and for 15 minutes or until tender.
- Cook the pasta until al dente.
- Set aside 1/2cup (125ml) of liquid from the pasta the drain the pasta.
- In a large bowl, combine the pasta, reserved liquid, bell pepper and roasted tomatoes and fennel. Toss until evenly mixed.
- Transfer to individual plates, sprinkle the cheese over and generously.
1. The broiler will char the capsicum quite a bit but don’t worry, you’re going to peel it anyway.
2. Putting the charred capsicum in a covered bowl of sealable plastic will steam and help to lift the skin for easy peeling.
3. After peeling, don’t wash the capsicum. It will ruin the beautiful flavor.
4. If you have extra bell peppers, you can roast more and store because this is also great for salads!
1. Pasta dishes are always on top of my top list whenever I want to have a satisfying meal. They are also cheaper.
2. I spent less than S$2.00 per serving.