Garganelli with Fennel Sausage and Melting Leeks

2011 Sep/Oct

Garganelli pasta is a rustic version of penne – it holds creamy sauces well. When cooked low and slow, leeks take on a luscious quality and make an incredible pasta sauce.


  • 3 T. butter
  • 3 T. olive oil
  • 4 links fennel or mild Italian sausage, chopped
  • 4 large leeks, cleaned and thinly sliced
  • 2 t. salt
  • 1 t. black pepper
  • 1 t. fennel pollen, or crushed fennel seeds
  • 200 g. garganelli or penne pasta
  • 1/2 c. grated gruyère cheese
  • extra virgin olive oil for drizzling


In a large sauté pan, melt the butter and olive oil over medium heat. Add the sausage and cook until lightly browned. Add the leeks and season with salt. Cook slowly, stirring often until the leeks are creamy and almost melting, then add the fennel pollen and black pepper. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the garganelli. Cook according to the package directions, then drain, reserving about 1 cup of the pasta cooking water. Add the drained pasta to the sauce along with the gruyère and stir until the cheese melts and makes the sauce creamy, adding a bit of pasta water if necessary. Place into a serving dish and drizzle with olive oil, serve immediately. Serves 4.