‘Everything in’ tomato & fennel sauce

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.

Photo 15-02-2018, 16 24 52.jpg

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.

Photo 15-02-2018, 16 32 19

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.


  1. Peel and finely chop the vegetables and garlic. When I’m cooking a batch, I prefer to use the food processor to do this.
  2. 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.
  3. Add in the tomatoes and red wine. Rinse the tomato tin with a little water and add that too.
  4. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 15-20 minutes. Season.
  5. 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.


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