This Orange Butter Sauce Spaghetti with Fennel Italian Meringue Kisses is a Sicilian classic – Orange and fennel salad is transformed into a delicious Italian dinner of spaghetti laced in tart and citrus-sy orange butter sauce and topped with fennel flavoured Italian Meringue Kisses that add the crunch of a shaved fennel bulb.
When I think of Italian food, I think of fresh flavors with a limited number of ingredients that I can literally count on my fingers. From the excessive number of Italian cooking shows I have seen and food blogs I’ve read of fellow bloggers, not to mention the vast library of cookbooks I own, what I have gleaned is this – Italian food is a celebration of flavors and local, fresh ingredients. It aims at making every ingredient sing.
Of course there is the ever so classic tomato – basil – mozzarella combo that I love to bits and pieces and who can deny the awesomeness of pesto? Call me crazy, but I LOVE orange and fennel that combine to form a fresh and light Sicilian salad.
It is my go – to summer dinner when all I crave is something fresh, zingy and yet soul – satisfying. But then, like always, something clicked in my mind and I had to get off my butt and try it before the anxiousness took over me.
This classic Sicilian salad was set to become my choice of Pasta sauce albeit with a very amazing twist. Whilst I made a delicious pungent – tart orange butter sauce with a splash of red wine vinegar before tossing my al dente boiled Del Monte spaghetti into it, I went one step ahead and made an Italian Meringue perfumed with the fresh aniseed –y fennel. Because, why not?
1. Onions and Garlic being prepped for the sauce:
2. Squeezing out fresh orange juice and the aromatic zest:
3. Making the sauce:
4. Boiling my Del Monte Spaghetti pasta to Al Dente:
5. Tossing Pasta in Sauce:
6. Adding the crunchy Fennel Italian Meringue Kisses:
7. Plating the ready pasta:
Talk about a fireworks of textures and flavors. You get the tartness from the orange, slight pungency from the garlic and the delicious salted butter very generously offers body to the sauce. And then, once plated, the spaghetti is sprinkled with the Italian Fennel Meringue drops, some crushed into grated Parmesan-like goodness while others left whole to provide the fresh crunch that we all associate with the fennel bulb.
This is a lovely and fresh spin on the classic orange and fennel salad and is an exciting way to wow your guests when you host your next dinner / brunch party. Besides, as fancy and complicated as it looks, there is barely 15 minutes of actual human work involved. The dehydration of the glossy Italian meringue perfumed with fresh aniseed –y fennel happens in the oven where it has been set to an extremely low temperature (about 90 – 100 degrees) to dry out and crisp up and can take anywhere between 1 to 2 hours depending on the weather conditions, ahem, rains, ahem ahem.
I love making elaborate elements that still manage to retain their individual charm and unique personality and this pasta dish is just that! It is your ideal Orange – Fennel salad but presented in a visually obvious different style. I love the crunch and freshness of the fennel bulb and because it is not easily available in Indian supermarkets at all times, I wanted to ensure that no one missed out on that crunch; enter – Meringues! Nothing can quite replicate that crunch from shaved fennel than fennel flavored Italian meringue kisses dehydrated for long, undisturbed hours in the oven.
Pamper your guests with this complicated looking but surprisingly easy and delicious pasta and take them on a tour of Sicily.
This Blog post is part of Del Monte India’s (link) #ItalianEscapades
A Sicilian classic - Orange and fennel salad is transformed into a delicious Italian dinner of spaghetti laced in tart and citrus-sy orange butter sauce and topped with fennel flavoured Italian Meringue Kisses that add the crunch of a shaved fennel bulb.
- 85 grams butter, chilled
- 1 small red onion, finely chopped
- 2 fat cloves garlic
- Chopped parsley, a handful.
- 1 - 2 tsp Italian mixed herbs
- 1 tbsp. red wine vinegar (optional)
- Zest of 1 orange
- Juice of 1 orange
- 2 tsp chilli flakes
- Salt + pepper, as per taste
- 90 grams sugar
- 25 mls water
- 2 egg whites, room temperature
- 1 tsp freshly squeezed lime juice
- 2 tsp fennel powder
- Orange Segments
- Fennel flavored Italian Meringue Kisses
- Preheat oven at 100 degrees Celsius.
- Prepare your baking tray by lining it with parchment paper.
- Begin by combining the sugar and water on medium high heat. Only stir until all of the sugar has dissolved.
- While you prepare the sugar syrup, simultaneously take egg whites in a clean metal bowl and add 1 tsp lime juice. This helps keep your meringue stable.
- Start whisking on very low speed using a stand mixer or hand mixer. It should start to get foamy.
- Once your sugar syrup begins to come to a boil, keep your spoons away and leave the syrup undisturbed, only swirling the pan every so often.
- Use a meat / candy thermometer to keep a watch on the syrup. It should reach a temperature of 115 degrees Celsius.
- If you do not have a candy thermometer, keep the flame between medium and low and heat the syrup for approximately 5 minutes.
- However, I’d recommend purchasing a candy thermometer. It is inexpensive and can open up an entire avenue for you to explore different candy making techniques.
- Pour the hot sugar syrup in a steady stream along the sides of the bowl, whilst still whisking at slow speed. You can ask someone to help you out whilst you do this since the sugar syrup is EXTREMELY hot and will burn you if it comes in contact.
- On the highest setting, whisk the mix for approximately 4 minutes. It will start to increase in volume and look fluffy.
- Add the powdered fennel and mix again on the highest setting for 1 minute.
- Pour into piping bags with your favorite nozzle and pipe the kisses on parchment paper placed in the prepared tray.
- Let them dehydrate in the oven for about 1-2 hours.
- When done, leave them in the oven to crisp up.
- Cook the Del Monte spaghetti as per the packet instructions. Drain and keep aside.
- In a pan, melt 1 tablespoon butter and add chopped onions and garlic and sauté until softened.
- Add the orange zest, juice and red wine vinegar and bring to boil.
- When it begins to boil, lower the heat and let it simmer for a couple of minutes.
- Add the chilli flakes, Italian mixed herbs and parsley.
- Add salt and pepper as per taste.
- Take the pan off the heat and slowly add the remaining cold butter one cube at a time whilst constantly stirring the saucepan along the handle till the sauce begins to emulsify into a thick, cream coloured sauce. Do not use spoons to stir the sauce at this stage.
- In a bowl, place your pasta.
- Add the orange segments, parsley and fennel Italian meringue kisses.
- Crumble a few meringues over the pasta.
- Serve hot.