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Playing Pici with Fennel-Tomato Sauce


  • 1/4 cup EVOO – Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 bulbs fennel, trimmed, quartered, cored and finely chopped
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup Pernod or white wine
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 1 can San Marzano tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon Acacia honey
  • 1 cup passata or tomato sauce
  • 1 pound pici or bucatini
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • Grated Parmigaino-Reggiano
  • Torn basil, to serve


Serves: 4 servings


Heat a large pan over medium heat with EVOO, 4 turns of the pan. Add the fennel, onions and garlic, season with salt and pepper, and cook to soften and very lightly caramelize, 20-25 minutes. Add Pernod or white wine, stock and tomatoes, breaking them up with a wooden spoon. Add honey and passata or sauce, and bring to a bubble. Reduce heat a bit and simmer 30-40 minutes.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta, salt water and undercook the pasta 1 minute less than package directions.

Purée sauce with an immersion blender or in batches in a food processor. Return to low heat and add cream to sauce.

Reserve 1/2 cup starchy cooking water before draining pasta. Toss pasta with the sauce, reserved cooking water, cheese and more EVOO to your taste.

Serve in shallow bowls with a few leaves of torn basil on top.