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.

Ease of Preparation: Easy

Preparation Time: 15-20 min

Cook Time: 50 min

Servings: 4

Recipe By: Robin Robertson

From:  Pasta For All Seasons
Used with permission of Robin Robertson

Chef Suggestions
Other pasta choices: fettuccine, spaghetti