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Playing Spicy Tomato Sauce with Fennel, Peppers and Onions


  • 1/4 cup EVOO Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seed
  • 1 Fresno chili pepper, thinly sliced with seeds or 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 4 cloves garlic, very thinly sliced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cubanelle peppers, seeded and chopped
  • Salt
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 28- to 32-ounce can San Marzano tomatoes
  • 1 pound pici, bucatini, perciatelle or spaghetti
  • Pecorino cheese, grated, for topping


Serves: 4


Heat EVOO, 4 turns of the pan, in a deep skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add fennel, chili and garlic, and stir 3-4 minutes. Add onions and peppers, season with salt, stir and cook 5-6 minutes more, partially covered. Stir in tomato paste until fragrant, 1 minute, then add wine and reduce a minute or so. Add tomatoes and break them up with a potato masher. Simmer over low heat for 30 minutes, partially covered.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil; add salt and cook pasta to al dente. Just before draining, reserve half a mug of starchy water.

Drain pasta, combine with sauce and add a little starchy cooking water as needed.

Serve pasta in shallow bowls topped with cheese.