Roasted Tomato Sauce with Fennel

October 20, 2012

It is clean up time in the garden.  The last of the tomatoes and peppers are ripening on the vine.  We have cleared almost all of our summer crops in favor of space for fall garlic and broccoli and kale.  We left the tomato and pepper plants in hopes that a few more fruits would ripen during this week’s heat wave.

We have been on a serious salsa bender this summer, chopping most of the best tomatoes into a simple lime-laced habañero-powered accompaniment to everything from grilled fish to scrambled eggs.  Our smallest tomatoes are now chilling in the freezer having been transformed into Savory Oven Dried Tomatoes .  Today though,  emboldened by a bulb of fennel gleaned from a surprise source, I squirreled away enough tomatoes to make this delicious basic tomato sauce.

Basic is perhaps not the right word to describe Roasted Tomato Sauce with Fennel, because it suggests that the results may be a bit boring.  Quite to the contrary, this sauce absolutely sings of late summer with intense flavors of tomato and a slight sweetness lent by the roasted fennel.  I make as much of this sauce as I can, multiplying as necessary, and then freeze it in 2 cup portions that are ready to serve with the mood strikes.  Besides the intense and pure fall flavor, I also love this recipe because it calls to cook the sauce in the oven which frees up my time (and stove top) to take on other tasks such as making fig jam, cheering for the Giants, and supervising my children’s creation of a zillion maple leaf imprints.

Roasted Tomato Sauce with Fennel

adapted from ad hoc at home by Thomas Keller

makes 6 cups

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 cups minced yellow onion

1 cup minced fennel

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 quarts diced fresh tomatoes (or two 28-ounce cans)

1 bay leaf

3 sprigs fresh thyme

sea salt

fresh ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Combine the oil, onion, fennel and garlic in a dutch oven or oven proof pot.  Toss to coat everything in oil and season with salt.  Slide the pot into the oven and cook for 45 minutes to an hour.  Give it a stir a couple of times while it is cooking.  You are ready for the next step when the vegetables have softened and are beginning to caramelize.

Add the brown sugar and vinegar to the pot.  Give it a stir.  Cook for another 20 minutes or so.

Add in the diced tomatoes, bay leaf, and thyme.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cook for another 1 to 1 1/2 hours.  Stir it every half hour.  When the tomatoes are mostly broken down and the veggies are nice and soft, remove the bay leaf and thyme sprigs. Puree the sauce down to your desired consistency.  You can use an immersion blender for this, or spoon the sauce into a food processor or blender.

Let sauce cool to room temp, then refrigerate for up to a week or freeze for up to 6 months.

Print this recipeRoasted Tomato Sauce with Fennel

You may also like:

Savory Oven Dried Tomatoes

Fresh Tomato Basil Soup

Greek Salad

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3 Responses to “Roasted Tomato Sauce with Fennel”

  1. TasteFood Says:

    I love fennel, and this combination of flavors sounds like a wonderful sauce.

  2. Eileen Says:

    Fennel sounds like a really interesting addition to tomato sauce. Must try this. Thanks for the great idea!

  3. Supplier Says:

    Sings of late summer indeed— i will have to keep this page bookmarked and try it! What are the best kind of tomatoes to use?


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