This was a good example of having things on hand and then adapting a recipe from Melissa Clark in NYTimes Cooking in order to use most of it up. This is almost pizza in a pasta, but it’s bright and refreshing and easy to make.
For this you’ll need: 4-6 oz pepperoni (we used the sliced, turkey-based kind and cut it into thin strips), 3 cloves garlic (crushed and chopped), 1 Tbsp tomato paste, 1/4 cup cream, 1/4 cup fresh basil (chopped), 1 tsp fennel seed (crushed with mortar and pestle), 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes, 1/2 lb pasta (we used penne), 2 Tbsp olive oil, 1/4 cup grated parmesan, 1 lemon (zest and juice from), salt and pepper (to taste).
Start a pot of water on to boil, add pasta once the water is boiling and cook to al dente (about 1 min less than the package instructions indicate).
In a large skillet heat the olive oil over a medium heat. Add the pepperoni and toss well to coat all the pieces. Let cook until just beginning to crispen and brown and gently toss again – about 2-3 mins. Cook over medium heat until they are just browning – about another 2-3 mins more.
If the pan is dry, add a little more olive oil and then add the chopped garlic, crushed fennel seeds and the crushed red pepper. Stir/toss well and cook until the garlic is fragrant and just beginning to brown – about 1-2 mins. Add the tomato paste and stir well to combine it with the other ingredients in the pan. Cook until the tomato paste has darkened and bit – about 1-2 mins. Add the cream and stir well to combine.
Drain the pasta reserving about 1 cup of the water. Add the drained pasta about 1/2-3/4 cup of the pasta water to the skillet and stir well to combine and coat the pasta. Add the zest from 1 lemon, stir again. A smooth sauce should begin to form. Add a bit more water to make it smoother and cook the pasta in the sauce for another 2-3 mins. Stir in the grated parmesan a bit at a time to thicken the sauce. Add the juice from 1/2 lemon, salt and pepper as needed, turn off the heat and stir well.
Serve in large bowl with crusty bread.