My nine-year old niece visited us over the weekend. We were planning to make dinner and I asked her what she would like to have, she thought for a minute and said Spaghetti and Pasta sauce. That actually worked out very well as I knew she loves the flavor of fennel and she likes mushrooms both of which were in the refrigerator. I decided to make homemade pasta sauce with fresh fennel, button mushrooms and bell peppers and I could use up the perfectly ripe tomatoes we had.
Fresh fennel and tomatoes are a classic paring, I wanted a hint of fennel flavor in the sauce and also the flavor of mushrooms and green bell peppers sautéed in garlicky olive oil and all of this laced with Sauvignon Blanc one that is dry and has fruity notes.
Here’s my recipe for the pasta sauce.
3 lbs fresh ripe tomatoes
1 cup (200 ml) tomato purée
6 medium unpeeled crushed garlic cloves
¼ cup thinly sliced fresh fennel
½ cup finely diced onions
½ cup thinly sliced button Mushrooms
½ cup medium diced green bell peppers
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ cup dry white wine (Sauvignon Blanc)
1 tsp crushed chili flakes
1 tbsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp Marjoram
1 tsp Thyme
1½ tsp kosher salt or sea salt
1 tsp granulated garlic powder
- Preparing the tomatoes, on a stove top bring a gallon of water to boil, in the meantime make an X cut with a paring knife on the bottom of each tomato and add to the boiling water. you will notice the skin on the tomato start to wrinkle in about 15-30 seconds, quickly remove from the boiling water using a slotted spoon and shock them in the ice water to stop them from cooking.
- Peal the skins and cut the tomatoes into halves and remove all the seeds and if the core is hard remove that as well. Than dice the tomatoes into small pieces or you can use a food processor pulsing 5-6 times.
- Put a deep thick bottom pot on the stove top and add the Extra Virgin Olive Oil once the oil is hot add the unpeeled garlic, and sauté until lightly golden brown on a medium flame, the intent is to flavor the oil with garlic.
- Now remove the garlic and add the fennel let it caramelize and add the diced onions and sauté until translucent, than add the mushrooms and cook until you can smell the flavor of the mushrooms. Now add the bell peppers and sauté for 2 minutes, than add the crushed chili flakes.
- Add diced tomatoes, Italian Seasoning, Marjoram, Thyme, Garlic powder and Kosher Salt, cook for couple of minutes until you should smell fragrance of the spices
- Add the White Wine and cook until the alcohol has evaporated
- Mix in the tomato purée and reduce the flame to low and let cook for about 1 1/2 – 2 hours the longer you cook it the more flavorful the sauce this batch I cooked for about 1 1/2 hours. During the simmering if the sauce appears to be too thick add some water or if you have juice of the tomatoes use that
- This sauce should not be very thick or too watery and I like mine a little chunky. Once you are happy with the taste and flavor remove and enjoy with your favorite pasta