QUICK CHERRY TOMATO & FENNEL SAUCE

by Julia Powers

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When your garden is cranking in September, freeze cherry tomatoes individually on cookie sheets, then toss into plastic bags to squirrel away for winter. Use direct from freezer to saucepan.

This adaptable recipe is just one idea for putting those little orbs of frozen summer to use. Slather the sauce over fresh cod filets laid out in an oiled baking dish, drizzle with olive oil and Pernod, and bake at 400 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes. Or use it to nap steaming-hot polenta (with or without grilled chops or sausages) or toss with al dente pasta and crumbled feta.

• 2–3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

• 1 very large onion, slivered

• 1 bulb fennel, divided: lower part slivered; fronds chopped

• kosher or sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper

• 2 cups frozen cherry tomatoes (or fresh, in season)

• 1/4 cup dry white wine

Heat a broad sauté pan over high flame. Add the olive oil. When it shimmers, toss in the onions and fry quickly. When they begin to brown a bit after a minute or two, add the fennel and continue stirring. Season with salt and pepper a bit aggressively.

When the vegetables are crisp-tender, add the cherry tomatoes and wine. Cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes have broken down and the sauce is reduced, 5 to 8 minutes.

Correct seasoning.

Makes about 3 cups, enough to sauce 1 to 2 pounds fish or complement a polenta or pasta for 3 to 4 diners.

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