Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Recipe: Rosemary-Fennel Sauce

I first prepared Rosemary-Fennel Sauce at a time when I was experimenting a lot with mirepoix. This sauce has since become a popular addition to my home cooking efforts because it is a versatile addition or starter for a variety of Italian dishes. I recently posted one of those dishes, you can find it here.

I prepare this sauce in a variety of ways. For instance, I'll create a thicker version for roasting with meats. To do that, I'll half the amount of crushed tomatoes. If it is being paired with something and needs a little more support, I will increase some, or all of the amounts of fennel seed, rosemary or red pepper flakes as necessary. It's not rocket science so don't be afraid to adjust this sauce to your needs.

As it is presented below it is the perfect accompaniment for cheese tortellini or any other pasta you may want to try it with. I'm not going to get all arty and poetic here and go into great detail regarding the texture and flavor contrast and balances, but they are in there. Give this sauce a shot, I think you'll really like it. Get a little daring with it and you'll soon be making your own mirepoix-based sauces. Do that enough and you'll never buy another jar or can of that prepared gloop in the market!

IMPORTANT NOTE: You'll need to boil down your own balsamic vinegar until it forms a thicker syrup, or you can drop a chunk of money on the expensive vintage stuff. If you want to make your own, just buy two bottles of the inexpensive stuff and simmer it down until you have less than one bottle left. The resulting syrup retains the balsamic flavor but is thicker, sweeter and far less "vinegary" than what you started with. Take a taste of that stuff and you'll understand why Italians put balsamic vinegar on strawberries and ice cream. DO NOT USE THE THIN, INEXPENSIVE BALSAMIC VINEGAR IN THIS RECIPE!

Rosemary-Fennel Sauce

2-3 TBS olive oil
1-1/2 cups celery (finely chopped)
1 1/2 cups carrots (finely chopped)
4 cups onion (finely chopped)
2 tsp fennel seeds (crushed)
2 pinches red pepper flakes
1 tsp dried rosemary (coarsely ground)
6 cloves garlic (sliced thin)
1-1/2 cups dry white wine
28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
2 cups (16 ozs.) tomato sauce
4 TBS tom paste
Salt and pepper to taste
2 TBS balsamic vinegar

Place a large sauce pan or dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil When the olive oil begins to shimmer, add the onions, carrots, celery, fennel, red pepper flakes and rosemary. Sauté until the the carrots and celery soften and the onions begin to brown.

Add the sliced garlic and stir in for 1-2 minutes. Be careful not to burn the garlic.

Add the wine and deglaze the pan. Allow the wine to reduce to form a thick sauce.

Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, salt, black pepper and the balsamic vinegar. Bring the sauce to a low simmer and continue cooking. You want the sauce a little thick, not too thick, not too loose. Check for seasoning and adjust as necessary.

Serve over cooked tortellini or any other pasta.
Recipe: Rosemary-Fennel Sauce from Chop Onions, Boil Water - World Food at Home by Henry Krauzyk http://www.choponionsboilwater.com


  1. This is going on the list to try... :)

  2. Yes, it is a great sauce to modify and change to suit your taste. It's thick and rich, good comfort food stuff!