Serious Eats: Recipes

Dinner Tonight: Roasted Fennel Tomato Sauce

Due to unhappy experiences with licorice at Grandmother's as a child, I've long been an anisephobic eater. I don't think I'm alone—the flavor of black licorice is distinct enough to have long spawned lovers and haters. I was, and still am, a hater. And more than that, for a long time, even foods that vaguely tasted of the stuff (like tarragon and fennel) sent me running.

That all changed when I tasted roasted fennel. It's remarkable stuff. A good shot of high, dry heat and the crisp vegetable turns seductively sweet, just as the anise flavor mellows. This recipe, adapted from The Splendid Table's How to Eat Supper, roasts it with a couple pinches of chili flakes, which shoots everything through with spiciness and keeps the sweetness in check. A can of tomatoes stirred in for the last ten minutes of roasting turns the whole thing into a rich pasta sauce that's full of caramelized flavor.

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