Caramelized Fennel and Duck Sausage Pasta

Pasta, Rice, Legumes, and other Starchy Sides
Caramelized Fennel and Duck Sausage Pasta, Sacha Served What

This caramelized fennel and duck sausage pasta should be put on your dinner menu at least once a week. It’s just that good! Your friends and family who eat it will thank you.

Like I said, this duck sausage pasta is really really good, and it has a lot to do with the amazing ingredients in it. Fresh fennel, good quality extra virgin olive oil, fresh oregano…should I go on?

The farmer’s market is one of my favorite places to shop – I love perusing through the stalls, seeing what food and produce are available, and tasting when possible. It’s one of my happy places. One of my favorite stalls is Hudson Valley Duck Farm. They have incredible products and their smoked duck sausage is one of my favorites. So obviously, I needed to create a pasta dish to showcase it.

Caramelized Fennel and Duck Sausage Pasta, Sacha Served What

Ingredient Notes:

  • Fennel – If you usually don’t love fennel, I encourage you to give this recipe a try! Caramelizing it changes the flavor drastically. You can put as little or as much of the caramelized fennel in the pasta as you’d like.
  • Breadcrumbs – I don’t love putting breadcrumbs on all pastas, but they fit here! I use gluten-free, of course, but you can always use regular bread crumbs if you’re not gluten-free.
  • Bowtie Pasta – A very controversial pasta shape. Feel free to choose any shape you’d like. I have been using Banza (pasta made from chickpeas) since it’s a bit healthier, but you can use regular pasta, too!
  • Smoked Duck Sausage – If you can’t find it, feel free to use another type of savory sausage. Would stay away from any sausage that is too sweet.
Caramelized Fennel and Duck Sausage Pasta, Sacha Served What
Caramelized Fennel and Duck Sausage Pasta, Sacha Served What

Caramelized Fennel and Duck Sausage Farfalle

Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 4


For the Caramelized Fennel:

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 large fennel bulbs trimmed, halved, cored, and thinly sliced
  • 1 ¾ teaspoon Kosher salt
  • ¾ teaspoon sugar
  • 2 fresh bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • Freshly ground black pepper

For the Toasted Breadcrumbs:

For the Pasta:

  • Kosher Salt
  • 1 ½ boxes (12 oz.) Bowtie Pasta I like to use Banza Chickpea Pasta, but you can use any type you'd like
  • 9 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 5 cloves garlic thinly sliced
  • 3 (about 12 oz.) smoked duck sausage links casings removed and sausage crumbled
  • ¾ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 4 cups roughly chopped baby kale packed
  • 1 cup Caramelized Fennel
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
  • 1/4 cup Toasted Breadcrumbs


For the Caramelized Fennel:

  • In a large pan over low heat, add all of the ingredients and cover tightly. Cook for an hour and 15 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary. Set aside.

For the Toasted Breadcrumbs:

  • In a small pan over medium-high heat, add the olive oil. When hot, add the breadcrumbs and salt and toast for 2 ½ minutes, stirring often. Take out of the pan and set aside.

For the Pasta:

  • Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook al dente (timing depends on which type of pasta you use – I cooked the Banza chickpea pasta for 5 minutes). Strain, saving 1 ¼ cups of the pasta water, and rinse under cold running water, until room temperature.
  • In a large deep skillet over medium-high heat, add 3 tablespoons of the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the garlic, sausage, and red pepper flakes. Cook for 6 minutes, stirring often, until nicely browned. Add the kale and cook for one minute, then add the caramelized fennel and oregano and cook for an additional minute.
  • Add the pasta, saved pasta water, and the rest of the olive oil. Cook for 1 minute, until most of the liquid is absorbed. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve with the toasted breadcrumbs sprinkled on top.


Caramelized Fennel Storage: The fennel can be made and stored in the refrigerator up to one week ahead of time, or stored in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 2 months. Let come to room temperature before using.
Toasted Breadcrumb Storage: The breadcrumbs can be made and stored in an airtight container in the pantry for up to one month. 
Pasta Storage: The pasta can be made and stored in the refrigerator up to 3 days ahead of time, however it is best served immediately. Reheat in the microwave or in a skillet over the stove. 
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