This simple red sauce with fennel is perfectly paired with the sweet Italian sausage; served on big, fat pappardelle? I. die. It’s very quick, very tasty and very filling. Whip this up any weeknight and you won’t regret it.
I know a lot of you use jarred red sauce; others of you have a standard red sauce that you make for everything. I love to experiment with new versions of red sauce often; I’ve never met one I didn’t like. This one, though? It’s molto buono! I’m going to challenge you to break out of your red sauce comfort zone and try this sauce. It’s simple to make, the cook time is really speedy, and it’s pocketbook friendly.
This particular sauce incarnation came to be when I found some really excellent sweet Italian sausage at a local market. The sausage had fennel in it and I thought I’d accentuate that flavor in the sauce. Fennel seed has a very slight anise flavor; its slight sweetness enhances the garlic flavor in the meat sauce. Then, I found some beautiful garlic/herb pappardelle; it was the perfect pasta for this dish. Pappardelle (a very broad fettuccine) can be difficult to find where I live; if that is the case where you are, of course, you could you any shape pasta. Do try to find some pappardelle, though. The width of pappardelle makes for the best pasta slurpin’ ever.
Go on…make this fennel tomato sauce and buon appetito!
- 1 pound sweet Italian sausage, casings removed, pinched into small pieces
- 1 small onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ teaspoon fennel seed
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning herb blend
- shake crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 cup red wine
- 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Garnish: Shaved parmigiano reggiano and fresh chopped parsley (optional)
- Set a large sauce pan filled with salted water on the stove to boil.
- In a large skillet, over medium heat, add the sausage and saute until the sausage is browned.
- Add the onion, garlic, fennel, Italian seasoning, crushed red pepper flakes and continue to saute for about 3 minutes.
- Add the red wine to the pan with the sausage and deglaze (scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of) the pan.
- Add the crushed tomatoes.
- Salt and pepper to taste.
- Continue to simmer for about 15 minutes so sauce will thicken and reduce slightly.
- When the pasta is cooked according to package instructions, drain.
- Place a serving of pasta on a plate or in a pasta bowl and cover with sauce.
- Garnish with parmigiano reggiano and parsley and serve.