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Recipe: Tomato Sauce with Fennel and Zucchini

by Jane Wangersky | August 19th, 2016 | Recipes, Spreads & Sauces
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fennelI don’t usually serve vegetables on the side when I make pasta with tomato sauce — I like to say the sauce is the vegetable dish. It not only makes for a healthier, more interesting sauce, it saves on dishwashing. And, though it takes less than half an hour to make, it’s completely homemade. Okay, I don’t crush my own tomatoes. If you want to, go right ahead. But canned, crushed tomatoes are the single handiest ingredient you can use when you want to make your own tomato sauce.

You don’t usually come across fennel and zucchini in tomato sauce, but they turn up in other Italian dishes, so why not? Besides, they also turned up in my vegetable bin this week. The fennel gives the whole dish a delicious, liquorice-like scent and taste. (If all you want is the taste, try using fennel seeds as an herb.) The stalks will also work in this recipe; they’re easier to cut into smaller pieces if that’s important to you.

There’s no need to cook tomato sauce for a long time — in fact, letting it go too long ruins the taste. It can sometimes get a little too acidic, but the touch of sugar counteracts that.

Tomato Sauce with Fennel and Zucchini

An easy homemade pasta sauce.


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Prep Time
10 min

Cook Time
10 min

Total Time
20 min

Prep Time
10 min

Cook Time
10 min

Total Time
20 min

Ingredients
  1. 1 Tb. vegetable or canola oil (or even olive oil)
  2. 1 small (or ½ medium) red onion
  3. ½ bulb fennel
  4. 8 medium mushrooms
  5. 1 large clove garlic
  6. 1 tsp. dried oregano
  7. 1 tsp. dried basil
  8. ½ tsp. salt
  9. 1 medium zucchini
  10. 1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes
  11. ½ cup white wine
  12. 1 tsp. sugar’
Instructions
  1. Wash the vegetables.
  2. Peel and finely dice the onion.
  3. Thinly slice the fennel and separate the rings.
  4. Slice the mushrooms.
  5. Peel and mince the garlic.
  6. Trim the zucchini (IOW, cut the ends off) and shred it coarsely with a cheese grater.
  7. Heat the oil over medium high flame until it sizzles slightly.
  8. Carefully add diced onion and cook, stirring, for 3-5 minutes until it begins to brown.
  9. Turn down to medium, add fennel slices and stir till they also begin to brown — 5 minutes or so.
  10. Add the mushrooms and stir when they begin to cook.
  11. Put in the minced garlic and stir constantly till it’s just barely golden.
  12. Mix in the oregano, basil, and salt.
  13. Remove from heat (things will still keep sizzling) and stir in the shredded zucchini until it’s slightly wilted.
  14. Stir in the crushed tomatoes and wine.
  15. Sprinkle with the sugar.
  16. Heat over medium low till hot enough to serve.
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