Thursday, November 11, 2010

Fennel with Pink Sauce

Now, I know my sauce is bright orange and not really pink...but it's okay.  The fennel is melt in your mouth delicious even though I used only a touch of pink-producing cream in my sauce.  You see, I just can't in good, healthy weeknight dinner, conscience, use that extra 1/4 cup of cream.  It was not missed in the slightest.  The little bit of cream that I did use, works magically with the fennel and tomato.

Fennel with Pink Sauce 
Origin: Impeccable Taste, Jaime  

Notes:  This dish is super easy to make, I'll even suggest you use a good bottled sauce to make your life even easier.  The sauce pictured at left is incredibly fresh and delicious, we buy is at COSTCO.  It is a simple marinara sauce that makes a great base for anything.  All natural, real Italian ingredients, no fillers, it's excellent.  I'll also provide a 5 minute tomato sauce recipe below, if you'd prefer to make your own.

(Try to ignore the golden, crispy, baked polenta fries in these photos.  I'll tell you about those another time.)

a drizzle of olive oil
1 large or 2 small fennel (anise) bulbs
1 - 1 1/2 cups basic tomato sauce (bottled or see below)
1/4 - 1/2 cup heavy cream (table cream 18%) or whipping cream
salt and pepper
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Drizzle a little olive oil in the bottom of a baking dish.

Cut the stalks off of the top of the fennel and trim the bottom so you are dealing with just the bulb.  Cut the bulb in half vertically.  Cut out the core by slicing a little triangle out of the bottom of each half of the fennel bulb.  Cut each half into wedges about an inch thick (the layers of the wedges may fall apart but no biggie).

Lay the fennel in a single layer in your baking dish, season with salt and pepper.  Top with enough tomato sauce to cover the fennel.  Then pour cream over tomato sauce.  1/2 cup of cream would make a true pink sauce but I used only 1/4 cup of cream at most.

Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes to an hour, or until fork tender.  Scatter the fresh basil on top just before serving.

Serves 4 as a side dish.

La Salsa di 5 Minuti
Origin: David Rocco

Notes:  This is a very basic, quick marinara sauce.  It's good as a base for pasta sauces such as Puttanesca.

1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
28oz canned peeled plum tomatoes, pureed (or crush the tomatoes with your hands, use both the juice and crushed tomato)

dried chili peppers, crushed (chili pepper flakes)
5 basil leaves, torn
Salt to season

Heat olive oil in a saucepan and add onion, garlic, and chili peppers. Gently fry ingredients together for a minute or two.

Add tomato puree to saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer on low to medium heat for 5-10 minutes.

Season with salt.  Add basil leaves at the very end.

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