This dish is inspired by my father’s Sicilian heritage and my husband’s Italian heritage. I put fennel in most all of my Italian tomato-based foods. My dad LOVED fennel seeds in his Italian food and it turns out that my husband grew to love them, too. I remember many meals at the Bartolomeo house, and one of them was when Grandpa Tony would cook Italian sausage on the grill.
Put water on to cook pasta. In a saute/fry pan, add fennel seeds, sliced onions and peppers, and saute in olive oil for a few minutes. (pictured is one small onion and one green pepper)
As they’re cooking, cook or brown your Italian sausage links. I put mine on the grill on high heat for about ten minutes, then on indirect heat for about 10. (Other ways to cook sausage? In a fry pan or boil in water and then put in pan for a couple of minutes to brown)
Add marinara to the grilled onions and peppers. You can make your own or use good jarred sauce. I used Trader Joe’s marinara, about 3/4 of a jar.
Put your pasta in the boiling water. I used linguine because it’s what was on hand. You could use spaghetti, fettuccini, penne, etc.
Cook marinara, peppers, and onions on simmer and when your sausages have cooked almost done, add them to the pan. Cover and let simmer and the sausages will finish cooking in the tomato sauce.
When the pasta is *al dente, take the sausages out of the sauce onto a plate. Add the pasta to the sauce, mixing well. If the sauce is not loose enough, add some pasta water. (Many times I take my pasta out using a pasta fork rather than dumping it all through a colander.) Add the sausages on top, cover and let cook on very low heat for a couple of minutes. Serve with parmesan cheese and crusty bread.
*al dente—The great opera soprano Beverly Sills, commented in an interview, that she had dinner with the famous tenor, Luciano Pavarotti. She said he cooked pasta for her, and to test if it was al dente, threw a strand against the wall. If it stuck, it was perfect! Tenor show-offs!