I’m really happy with this sauce. I have consumed immense quantities of tomato sauce in my life but it’s not something that I’ve ever gotten into making. That just means I have opinions about the subject and know what the good stuff looks like when I see it.
Cockiness aside, this is a really flexible recipe. I used up some random bits and bobs that were hanging about in my fridge to make this sauce, along with some pantry items. This is weeknight fare: easy, comforting & delicious. It was inspired by the combination of tuna and tomato, two things that I had forgotten tasted so amazing together.
- some butter for the pan
- a small or medium-size onion, diced
- 1 cup diced fresh fennel bulb
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 tbsp. fresh dill, stems removed and minced
- 1 quart canned crushed tomatoes, or the equivalent amount of fresh tomatoes, blanched and crushed (I used romas)
- 1 170 g. can of good-quality tuna (I used Estevan tuna from Nanaimo, BC)
- salt and pepper to taste (I used fleur de sel and a very generous amount of fresh ground black pepper)
- the equivalent of a 2” cubed piece of extra aged white cheddar, chopped or shredded
- ½ c. leftover beet greens cooked with onion (optional)
- First, get a large deep skillet or a wide pot and get the butter and the onions going over medium-high heat. Let them cook, stirring occasionally while prepping the other ingredients.
- Once the onions get really hot and are starting to caramelize, throw in the fennel and stir. Saute for a few minutes until the fennel begins to soften and everything gets back up to being really hot.
- Add the dill and garlic, stirring for about 30 seconds so the oil and the air becomes aromatic but not long enough for the garlic and dill to burn. Right away, add the tomatoes and all their juices. Bump the heat up to high and crumble in the can of tuna. Add the salt and pepper. Once everything is bubbling away you can turn the heat down a bit but the goal is to reduce the sauce and burn off most of that tomato water. Stir occasionally but thoroughly while doing this. You don’t want anything sticking to the bottom of the pot.
- Give the sauce a taste after a bit and adjust levels of garlic, dill, salt or pepper. When the sauce is just about reduced to the level you want it, add in the cheese and stir so it all melts out. The sauce will turn a beautiful creamy orange at this point. Give it another taste and add more cheese if needed. Once the sauce is at a good place, just stir in the greens and it’s ready to go.
- I served this sauce over little shell-shaped pasta, but you can use it however you want. As you may have gleaned this makes a generous amount of sauce, but it’s great left overs.