Penne with Sausage, Fennel, and Mushrooms


I love making this pasta dish when we have company over because you can prepare the sauce ahead of time and allow the flavors to blend and deepen until you’re ready to warm it back up in time for dinner. I’m also a believer in the rule that you should always cook with the wine you plan to serve with the meal. The peppery, currant, berry flavor of Syrah wine adds a deep richness to the sauce and wonderfully compliments the earthy mushrooms, spicy Italian sausage and bright licorice essence of the fennel.


4 hot Italian sausage links
2 cups Syrah wine
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 pound dried penne pasta
1 fennel bulb, chopped, fronds reserved for garnish
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 cup porcini mushrooms, sliced
1 cup Portobello mushrooms, sliced
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 can fire roasted petite diced tomatoes
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese


1) Cook the pasta according to package directions, drain, cover it to keep warm and set aside.

2) Sauté the sausage in a large saucepan for eight to ten minutes over medium-high heat, turning to brown the sausage on all sides. Remove the sausage with a slotted spoon, and slice them into half-inch diagonal slices.

3) In the same pan, sauté the onions, fennel, and garlic for four to five minutes, until the onions are translucent. Add the porcini, Portobello’s, rosemary, thyme, salt, red pepper flakes, and pepper, and continue cooking for three to four minutes.

4) Stir in the wine and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer to reduce by half.

5) Add the tomatoes and tomato paste and simmer for eight to ten minutes, then return the sausage to the pan and cook for an additional five minutes.

6) To serve the dish, divide the pasta among large pasta bowls, and top with the sauce along with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and fennel fronds.

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