Fennel-Bacon Pasta Salad

Julian Wong shared this recipe on the Taste of Home website. It can be served as a main dish for 4 people, or a side dish for 8.
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Servings: 4-8
1 package (16 ounces) Spiral pasta
6 thick-sliced Bacon strips, chopped
3 small Fennel bulbs, thinly sliced
1-1/2 cups Walnut halves
1-1/4 cups (5 ounces) crumbled Stilton cheese, divided (Gorgonzola cheese may be substituted)
1 teaspoon coarsely ground Pepper
3/4 teaspoon Salt
1. Cook pasta according to package directions.
2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon; drain on paper towels.
3. Remove drippings, reserving 3 tablespoons. Saute fennel in reserved drippings for 4-6 minutes or until crisp-tender.
4. Add walnuts; cook 3-4 minutes longer or until toasted.
5. Drain pasta, reserving 1/3 cup pasta water. Add pasta, bacon and 3/4 cup cheese to fennel mixture; sprinkle with pepper and salt.
6. Toss lightly until cheese is melted, adding enough reserved pasta water to coat pasta. Serve warm with remaining cheese. Refrigerate leftovers.

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