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Recipe for whole wheat penne pasta with sausage, fennel, tomato and olives

Whole wheat penne pasta with sausage, fennel, tomato and olives

In the house where I grew up, pasta meant spaghetti, and spaghetti always came with meatballs. In my own house, pasta is an occasional treat (oh, those carbs), one to be enjoyed with or without sauce, with or without meat, and almost always with cheese. These days, every market in my area carries a good variety of lean, precooked chicken sausage, and I always have sweet Italian flavored with peppers and fennel in my freezer. Everything in this dish, except the fresh fennel bulb and whole wheat pasta (which my husband Ted and I eschew in favor of Dreamfields most of the time), comes straight from the pantry. When I make it in summer, a bit of basil and some bronze fennel fronds from the garden kick the dish up a notch or two.

Whole wheat penne pasta with sausage, fennel, tomato and olives

Whole wheat penne pasta with sausage, fennel, tomato and olives

From the pantry, you'll need: olive oil, onion, garlic, chicken sausage, red pepper flakes, canned tomato, wine you'd be happy to drink, black olives, black pepper, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

Serves 4.


1/2 lb whole wheat penne or other whole wheat pasta
2 tsp olive oil
1 fennel bulb (preferably with the fronds attached), trimmed and sliced
1 medium onion, trimmed and sliced
1 large clove of garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
2 links (approx. 9 oz) sweet Italian chicken sausage, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds
Large pinch of red pepper flakes, or to taste
1 cup whole canned tomatoes with their juice
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup black olives
1/2 tsp fresh black pepper, or more to taste
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for topping


Bring a large pot of water to boil, and cook the pasta for one minute less than the package directions specify. Drain, and reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water.

While the pasta is cooking, start the sauce: In a large nonstick frying pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the fennel and onion, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3-4 minutes or until starting to brown. Stir in the garlic slices and sausage, and red pepper flakes to taste. Sauté until the sausage begins to brown. Pour in the tomatoes, breaking them up with a wooden spoon, along with the wine and olives.

Continue cooking over low-medium heat, stirring every now and then, for 5 minutes or until the tomatoes have broken down a bit into the sauce.

Pour the drained pasta into the pan, along with the reserved pasta cooking water, and reduce heat to low. Season with black pepper. Toss the pasta with the sauce and cook, stirring frequently, until the pasta has finished cooking and the ingredients are incorporated. Then, mix in the cheese, and stir to combine.

Serve hot, seasoned with more black pepper and topped with a sprinkling of parmesan cheese.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]

More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:
Linguine with sausage, peppers, leeks and tomato
Chickpeas with sausage and peppers
Farfalle with spinach and sausage
Spaghetti with basil pesto, tomato and olives
Turkey meatballs with pasta

Other recipes that use these pantry ingredients:
Whole wheat spaghetti with garlic, chard, and pecorino-romano cheese, from Kalyn's Kitchen
Whole wheat pasta with asparagus and turkey sausage, from Cheap Healthy Good
Healthy whole wheat spaghetti with meat sauce, from This Mama Cooks!
Whole wheat pasta with salmon in creamy pumpkin sauce, from Jersey Bites
Zucchini and almond pasta salad, from Smitten Kitchen

A meal in a bowl! Healthy whole wheat pasta, from The Perfect Pantry.

Disclosure: The Perfect Pantry earns a few pennies on purchases made through the Amazon.com links in this post. Thank you for supporting this site when you start your shopping here.


Fennel, wine, parmigiano.... I think you have hit my culinary nirvana Lydia.

All my favorite flavors!

Mmm..Your pasta dish sounds really delicious!

Great recipe!

Bellini, Pam, Nancy, Angela: honestly, these are some of my favorite flavors, too. I love the way fennel gets sweeter as it cooks in this sauce.

For me, this is the perfect combination of flavors - I love the brine of the olives, the bite of the red peppers and the nutty flavor of the whole wheat pasta. A pantry meal, indeed, but more like a feast!

I just can't love the whole wheat - But I love the Dreamfields! Thanks for introducing me to that.
add sausage, cheese....my favorites!!

Sounds and looks yummy. I do love my pasta, but I also watch my portions of it. Can't wait to try this! I haven't tried the Dreamfields pasta, but I love the Barilla Plus kind.

This looks awesome. I love sausage in pasta and wish I had some right now!

I tried this recipe on Saturday and it turned out very, very good. I've never cooked with fennel before and I enjoyed learning about, and using, this interesting veggie.

Because I only went to my local store...I had to improvise with a few of the ingredients. My store only had 2 fennel bulbs and they were both huge. I had no idea if these were the normal size or if they were too big, so I bought one and only used half. In hindsight I probably should have used the whole thing because the pieces really cooked down when I sautéed them with the onions.

The other problem is my store didn't have sweet Italian sausage in the casing (either chicken or pork). They usually always have it, but not the day I wanted it. I ended up having to use ground sweet Italian pork sausage.

Despite my ingredient problems, the dish turned out great...and I discovered I love cooking with fennel.

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