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Spicy Tomato Sauce with Fennel, Peppers and Onions

Spicy Tomato Sauce with Fennel, Peppers and Onions


  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)

  • 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 can San Marzano tomatoes (28-32 ounces)

  • 1 pound pici, bucatini, perciatelle or spaghetti

  • Pecorino cheese, grated, for topping


Heat the EVOO, four turns of the pan, in a deep skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the fennel seed, chili pepper and garlic and stir, 3-4 minutes. Add the onion and peppers; season with salt, stir and cook for 5-6 minutes more, partially covered. Stir in the tomato paste until fragrant, 1 minute, then add the wine and reduce for a minute or so. Add the 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 the pasta to al dente. Just before draining, reserve half a cup of the starchy cooking water. Drain the pasta, combine with the sauce and add a little starchy cooking water, as needed. Serve the pasta in shallow bowls topped with cheese.