Fennel pasta with kale, lemon and sage.

A flavor I always find myself thinking about in that period of late winter when I’m beginning to anticipate spring is …fennel! I particularly like fennel in soups and pastas. This simple preparation pairs fennel with fresh lemon and sage for a really refreshing dish that puts me in a springtime mood while still featuring seasonal winter produce. Vegetarian, optionally vegan, optionally oil-free.

INGREDIENTS (for two hearty eaters i.e. me and my boyfriend)

  • 1 tbsp olive oil (can be replaced with a splash of vegetable broth)
  • 1/2 lb spaghetti
  • 2-4 tbsp minced garlic depending on how much you like garlic (I used 4)
  • 1 large fennel bulb
  • fresh sage leaves, about 3 tbsp when chopped
  • juice and zest of two lemons
  • four generous handfuls of chopped kale
  • salt to taste
  • red pepper flakes to taste
  • black pepper to taste
  • parmesan cheese or nutritional yeast (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 425
  2. Toss roughly chopped fennel with tbsp olive oil and spread on baking sheet. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Roast until browning (about 30 minutes), turning once.
  3. While the fennel roasts, start a pot of water boiling for the pasta. Juice and zest your lemons so they’re ready to go. Then, in another pan, heat the garlic in a splash of water or broth for a few seconds, then add the kale with a bit of salt and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring constantly, until the kale wilts, then turn off the heat.
  4. Cook and drain (do not rinse, ever!) the pasta, reserving a cup of the pasta water in case you need additional liquid at the end.
  5. Add the drained pasta to the kale skillet, add the roasted fennel, chopped sage and lemon juice and stir. (Add reserved pasta water if you need more liquid; cook for a few seconds on high to reduce if there is too much liquid.) Add all of the lemon zest and black pepper to taste.
  6. Serve with an optional topping of grated parmesan or nutritional yeast, but of course it’s delicious with no cheese at all!


Lemon and herb pastas are so versatile and are always refreshing, especially when one is getting really tired of winter. I have a million variations for all kinds of fresh-tasting vegetables. There’s almost nothing that makes me happier than the sight of carbs and lemons together!


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