Fennel Pernod Pasta Sauce

Fresh fennel is so delicious and Pernod, aside from being a perfect digestif, packs the same anise flavor at deeper, more intense level.  Together, fennel and Pernod bring their wonderful flavors to Fennel Pernod Pasta Sauce; their intensity is nicely balanced by the acidity of the fresh tomatoes.  Silky Fennel Pernod Pasta Sauce is perfect over fettuccine, spaghetti or angel hair pasta or shirataki noodles. We used shirataki fettuccine in the photos below, as we are both following the keto diet, and it was delicious!    As a fun aside, Vito grew up enjoying fennel as a snack while Jan first enjoyed fennel when it was offered to him by a waitress at an Italian restaurant when he attended college in Massachusetts!

Fennel Pernod Pasta Sauce

Prep Time: 30 minutes, Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes. Serves 4.

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  • 1 medium or 2 small Fennel bulbs
  • 2 Tbs Shallot, minced
  • 2 Tbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 Tbs Unsalted Butter*
  • ½ cup Pernod, at room temperature
  • 6 large Roma Tomatoes, rinsed
  • ½ tsp Sweet Paprika
  • ¼ tsp coarse Sea Salt*

Fennel Pernod Pasta Sauce


  1. Rinse the fennel, core the bulb(s) and remove and reserve feathery fronds. Slice the fennel stems and bulb(s) crosswise into very thin slices; combine with minced shallot in a bowl.
  2. Combine the extra virgin olive oil and unsalted butter in a large sauté pan; simmer over a low heat until butter melts and begins to foam.
  3. Add the sliced fennel and shallot to simmering oil and butter, cover and simmer over a low heat until they begin to soften. If the simmering vegetables begin to cook too quickly, add a tablespoon or two of warm water and be patient.
  4. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook your pasta until al dente.
  5. As the fennel and shallot begin to soften, pour half of the Pernod over them, stir gently and raise the temperature to medium-high heat. Cook uncovered until the liquid has been reduced by two-thirds of its volume.
  6. While the sauce is reducing, finely chop the Roma tomatoes.
  7. Repeat this procedure with the remaining Pernod; the vegetables should be fairly soft at this point.
  8. Add the tomatoes, paprika and sea salt* to the pan and reduce the heat to low.
  9. Cover and simmer the ingredients together for ten minutes. When tomatoes have cooked down to form a sauce, turn off the heat.
  10. Mince the reserved fennel fronds.
  11. Drain and plate the pasta.
  12. Spoon the sauce over pasta, top with the minced fennel fronds and serve.
  13. Dress with combined grated Parmesan and Romano cheeses.


If using salted butter, omit the coarse sea salt.

Fennel Pernod Pasta Sauce


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