It’s the small things that make a difference – Pasta With Meat and Fennel Ragu


I can understand, well sort of understand,  those of you who don’t like fennel, it does have a very characteristic flavour raw and can get into a pretty sad state if cooked badly but when it is done well fennel can make your meal a special one! But don’t worry, in this dish you just feel a faint echo of the fennel and I really think meat and tomatoes go so well with fennel and fennel seeds that I am now convincing myself that you all will love it! You will, won’t you??


But I have a sentimental thing going on about fennel because my mother loved it and she passed that love along to me. Her obvious joy when she could find fresh fennel in Sweden decades ago and to cook and eat it was so pure that sometimes I wonder if it was that and not the fennel itself that made me fall in love with it. She used to serve it simply cooked with melted good butter and that is one of my favourite ways to eat it but it has to be on a good day, not a day when I miss her. But I have so many ways of eating fennel that I can safely eat it all week long without having to get beady eyed…

Pasta With Meat and Fennel Ragu

In this meat sauce or ragú, I have substituted the usual celery stick with fennel and added fennel seeds as well, they have a more rounded and sweeter flavour than the vegetable.

4 servings

1 carrot
1 small fennel bulb
1 onion
1 tblsp fennel seeds
450 g/ 1 lb minced meat
750 ml/ 3,2 cups tomato sauce
400 g/ 0,9 lb pasta, preferably spagetti
extra-virgin olive oil

 Chop or dice finely the carrot, onion and fennel bulb and then cook together with the fennel seeds in some olive oil in a pan on medium heat until they are soft and the onion is transparent.

 Increase the heat and add the minced meat and go on cooking, taking care to divide the meat carefully so you don’t end up with big lumps.  Add salt. When the meat has browned slightly, add the tomato sauce and leave to simmer under a half closed lid for 40 minutes, adding water if it gets too dry.

 Cook the pasta while the meat sauce finish on the stove and when it is ready, mix the two wel and serve!

Pasta With Meat and Fennel Ragu-4