Pasta with Golden Fennel
2 or 3 large fennel bulbs, including the greens
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
grated zest and juice of one lemon
one garlic clove, minced
3/4 to 1 pound fettucine
Peel or discard (if badly bruised) the tough outer layers of the fennel; the quarter the bulbs, setting aside the greens, and slice thinly. Heat a large pot of water for the pasta.
Melt one tablespoon of butter with the olive oil in a wide skillet. Add the fennel and saute over high heat, stirring occasionally, until browned in places (7-10 minutes). Season with 1 teaspoon salt. Toss with the lemon juice, then add one cup water. Reduce the heat and cook, covered, until the liquid has evaporated. Add another 1/2 cup water and continue cooking in this fashion until the fennel is very soft and deep gold in color (about 25 minutes in all). Season with pepper. Chop a handful of fennel greens--enough to make 1/3 cup--with the garlic and lemon zest and set aside.
Add salt and the pasta to the boiling water and cook until the pasta is al dente. Scoop it out and add it to the pan with the fennel and the chopped greens. Taste for salt and season with pepper. Serve with the cheese finely grated or thinly shaved over the top.