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Fennel Pasta with Orange

Fennel pasta with orange may sound unusual but they are classic flavours that work wonderfully in this quick and easy vegetarian dinner.

Once you have completed the prep and bought a pan of water to a boil this dish takes around 10 minutes to cook making it a perfect light midweek meal.

Overhead fennel and orange pasta with red onions and pecan nuts.

Orange and Fennel Pappardelle

The flavours in this simple pasta dish may sound “different”, however, fennel and orange is a classic combination and it works wonderfully in this quick pasta recipe.

It is a recipe that is unashamedly inspired by the classic flavours of a fennel and orange salad.

I adore the sweet aniseed flavour and think it is a woefully underused vegetable.

It appears in recipes as diverse as my squid ink spaghetti with prawns, fennel & chilli, spinach and fennel soup to being a key flavour driver in my shepherdess pie.

Here it is joined by some pecan nuts, red onions and wholegrain mustard, in a very easy dish.

It is a light but filling and nutritious meal that is a perfect shift away from tomato or creamy pasta sauces.

It’s quick too! The prep can be done in the time it takes to boil some water to cook the pasta… and the cooking takes as long as it takes to cook the pasta.

So all told around 20 minutes and dinner is on the table.

Fennel and orange pasta with red onions and pecan nuts.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use different types of pasta?

This pasta recipe does not really have a sauce, it is much more similar to a vinaigrette. As a result, this dish works best with thick and wide types of pasta.

I use pappardelle but tagliatelle and fettuccine work just as well.

The mafaldine pasta that I use in my fresh salmon pasta with tomatoes would also be perfect.

Do I have to use pecan nuts?

Not at all, other nuts that work equally well in this recipe include walnuts, pine nuts and lightly crushed hazelnuts.
All bring something slightly different to the dish.

Can I use prepared mustard instead of wholegrain mustard in the dressing?

I would advise against doing this, often prepared yellow mustard is very “pokey” and will overwhelm the flavours in this recipe.

If you must then try and use something very light like dijon mustard.

Can I make this in advance?

Yes, but it is best not reheated, it makes for a wonderful cold pasta salad and it will last in the fridge for 3-4 days.

Although if I were eating it cold I would use a smaller pasta like farfalle.

Is this vegan?

As written it is a vegetarian dish as I almost always use egg-based pasta.

However, there are lots of good vegan pasta brands on the market which would instantly transform this dish into a vegan one.

Close-up fennel and orange pappardelle with red onions and pecan nuts.

Serving Suggestions

The obvious choice with this simple pasta recipe would be some garlic bread however that is a flavour that is a bit pokey for this dish in my opinion.

If I wanted bread I would simply griddle up some slices of ciabatta with some olive oil.

If you are not sticking to vegan or vegetarian and wanted to bulk out this dish then you have a hist of options.

Everything from pan-fried cod or crispy pan-fried salmon to rosy pink pan-fried duck breast or my marmalade chicken breast are wonderful options.

Orange and fennel pasta with pecan nuts and wholegrain mustard.

Equipment Used

I only mention specific equipment brands if I think they make a material difference to a recipe. If you have any questions feel free to ask them in the comments section below the recipe.

  • Stovetop.
  • 20cm or 8″ saucepan
  • 30cm or 12″ frying pan.
  • Colander.
  • Kitchen knife or mandolin, I prefer the latter.
  • Citrus zester.
  • Weighing scales and or measuring cups and spoons.
  • Colander or sieve.
  • Stirring spoons and serving tongs.
Orange and fennel pasta with pecan nuts and wholegrain mustard.
Yield: 2 Servings

Fennel Pasta Recipe with Orange and Pecan Nuts

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

This simple and quick vegetarian fennel pasta recipe combines the classic flavours of a fennel and orange salad with the versatility of noodles, you'll love it!


  • 1 Small (175-200g) Fennel Bulb
  • 1 Orange
  • 50g (½ Cup) Pecan Nuts
  • 50g (⅓ Cup ) Small Red Onion
  • 3 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 Tbsp Wholegrain Mustard
  • 1 Tbsp White Wine Vinegar
  • 175g (6oz) Pappardelle Pasta
  • Salt to Taste


  1. Bring a pan of well-salted water to the boil
  2. Remove any fennel fronds from the bulb and set them aside for garnish later then cut the root off the bulb and slice as finely as you can, a mandolin really helps here. Then cut the slices into strips around 1-1.5cm (½-¾) thick.
  3. Peel the red onion and cut it into rings roughly the same thickness as the fennel (use the same setting on the mandolin).
  4. Zest the orange.
  5. Place the shaved fennel in a large flat bowl and add the olive oil and season with a pinch of salt.
  6. Drop the pappardelle into a 20cm or 8" saucepan containing boiling salted water (1½ teaspoons of water for a pan this size) and cook as per instructions (approx 7-8 minutes).
  7. Heat a 30cm or 12" frying pan over a very high heat and when hot add the oil-coated fennel keeping as much oil in the bowl as possible.
  8. Cook for 4-5 minutes tossing regularly.
  9. Add the mustard, orange zest, and vinegar to the bowl we had the fennel in and stir in the sliced red onion.
  10. Throw in the pecan nuts for the final minute of cooking keeping them moving in the pan all of the time in order to stop them from burning. You could chop the pecan nuts if you like to distribute them more evenly through the dish.
  11. Drain the pasta (reserving around 75ml or ⅓ cup of water) and add the pappardelle to the frying pan.
  12. Add the red onion and mustard mixture to the frying pan combine and add as much of the pasta water as required to get a nice emulsion.
  13. Finally, cut the orange in half and squeeze in some orange juice, tasting as you go. How much you will need will depend on your orange so start little and taste. Then serve with the reserved fennel fronds.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 534Total Fat: 40gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 33gCholesterol: 29mgSodium: 405mgCarbohydrates: 41gFiber: 6gSugar: 10gProtein: 9g

Calorific details are provided by a third-party application and are to be used as indicative figures only.

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