T always jokes (?) that he makes far too many decisions at work to have a strong opinion on what he wants for dinner at the end of a long day. But if there’s one thing he does request regularly, it’s this “special” tomato sauce.
The secret is the addition of fennel seeds, which sing so beautifully with the tomatoes, and make a basic pasta dish into something quite wonderful.
If you’re a fan of ‘hidden veg’, or like me, just need to use up the odds and ends in the veggie drawer, it’s a brilliant one for gobbling up all of the flavours and colours; so long as the basic combination of onions, garlic, tomatoes and fennel stays the same. Gorgeous with plain pasta, as a sauce for turkey meatballs, with green beans, salmon, or even to liven up a veggie lasagne. I keep the proportions very simple: one of everything and a slosh of wine; then double and triple quantities to keep in the freezer.
Tomato & Fennel Sauce
Enough for 4 as a main, easily doubled.
- 1 large onion
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 large carrot*
- 1 stick of celery*
- 1 tbsp fennel seeds
- 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
- A slosh of red wine
- A pinch of sugar and salt & pepper to season.
*swap for whatever you have in the veggie drawer if you need to – courgettes, spinach, mushrooms… just add leafy greens at the end rather than the start.
- Peel and finely chop the vegetables and garlic. When I’m cooking a batch, I prefer to use the food processor to do this.
- Heat a tbsp of oil in a large pan over a medium heat, and add the vegetables garlic and fennel, stirring to cook until starting to soften.
- Add in the tomatoes and red wine. Rinse the tomato tin with a little water and add that too.
- Bring to the boil and then simmer for 15-20 minutes. Season.
- Optionally – blend with a stick blender to make a smooth sauce.
Served here with the new wholegrain gluten free pasta from Garofolo, which I bought from Ocado.