Almost anything can be added to a basic pasta dough, but some ingredients are better than others. Fennel pollen is a winner. Available online, fennel pollen has a mellow anise flavor and a pretty yellow color that really comes through in the finished pasta.
This recipe is for the dough only. You can take this dough and make any shape you want with it — tagliatelle, spaghetti, ravioli or even pici, which is what I am making in the picture above; pici are hand-rolled fat spaghetti strands. I served these fennel pici with a fennel-tomato sauce and it was outstanding.
Once you make the dough, it can sit in the fridge for a day, but no longer.
- 3 cups flour, ideally Italian “oo” flour
- Just under a cup of water
- 4 teaspoons olive oil
- A pinch of salt
- 1 tablespoon fennel pollen
- Check out your fennel pollen. If it is gritty, which can happen, buzz it in a spice grinder until it is close to a powder. If you don’t have a spice grinder, grind it in a mortar and pestle. You need it fine or it will break up the gluten formation in the dough and make it fall apart.
- Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl and form a well in the center.
- Pour the water and olive oil in the well and, using a fork, start stirring the dry ingredients in slowly to incorporate them. Eventually you will have a shaggy mass and will need to peel off the dough from the fork. This is the point you begin kneading the dough. Start with it in the bowl, then move it to a well-floured surface when you have incorporated all the flour from inside the bowl.
- Knead for 5-8 minutes, until the dough becomes smooth.
- Wrap in plastic wrap and let sit for at least 30 minutes, and up to a day in the fridge.
- Roll out in a machine or make the pasta shape of your choice.