Fresh Tomato and Fennel Sauce over Linguine
This sauce is best made with very ripe tomatoes that are complemented by the faintly licorice flavor of fresh fennel, a popular vegetable in Italian cooking. When eaten raw, fennel is said to aid digestion. If you want to make this sauce when tomatoes are out of season, substitute high-quality canned tomatoes. San Marzano tomatoes, imported from Italy, are especially good.
2 pounds fresh ripe tomatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 yellow onion
1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
1 large garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 cup vegetable stock
or hot water
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil or 1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon minced fresh oregano or 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 pound linguine
freshly grated Parmesan or soy Parmesan cheese
Cut an "x" on the bottom of each tomato with a sharp knife and plunge into boiling water for 30 seconds. Remove from water and peel off the skins. Coarsely chop the tomatoes and set aside.
Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, fennel, and garlic. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 5 minutes. Remove lid. Stir in the tomato paste, tomatoes, vegetable stock or water, and bring to a boil. If using dried herbs, add them now. Reduce heat to low, add the salt and pepper to taste, and simmer for about 30 minutes or until a thick, rich consistency is reached. If using fresh basil and oregano, stir in at this time. Adjust the seasonings to taste and keep warm over low heat.
Cook the linguine in a large pot of salted boiling water, stirring occasionally, until it is al dente, about 8 minutes. When the pasta is cooked, drain it and place in a large shallow serving bowl or individual plates. Ladle the sauce over the pasta and serve with grated cheese.
Other pasta choices: fettuccine, spaghetti