Sugo with fennel, green olives and fennel salami

by | Hearty, Pasta, Sauces | 0 comments

Sugo (Ital.) initially means simply sauce. The difference from salsa (which also translates as sauce) is the extra creamy variety.

Pomodori pelati
Those who have time and desire, cook their own sugo di pomodoro.
For this you need a lot of tomatoes (1 kg), peel them and cook them with 5-6 onions for a few hours.

I’m too lazy to do that – at least here in Germany, it’s not worth the effort for me. You need tomatoes that have a great aroma. For this they need a lot of sun. I have a hard time getting them here – and the ones on my balcony … oh well.

So I use peeled canned tomatoes. They come in a wide variety of qualities, but I go for the more expensive ones from Italy. Important here is SOLO POMODORO – so there should be nothing but peeled tomatoes (and tomato juice).

Finocchio salame
The taste is particularly intense due to the salami.

I always use fennel salami, which you can now get in well-stocked supermarkets or else in the Italian delicatessen.

If you are already there – they also buy the green olives. You will need 2-3 large slices of salami, about the thickness of your thumb. They give the kick in the taste. I love it. But you may also omit the fennel salami. Then they get so incidentally a vegan dish.

I discovered the recipe a long time ago at Jamie Oliver. It is one of my absolute favorite pasta dishes. I no longer need his recipe, but I am forever grateful for the inspiration: I rediscovered fennel, a great vegetable with a very special flavor.

Even if this is still cook for 2! I always cook my sugo with fennel, green olives and fennel salami for at least 4 people. With sugo, it’s like goulash – it just needs a certain amount of ingredients to give it the right flavor. The sugo is great to freeze, so you get 2×2 servings 🙂

If you are not comfortable with this, simply halve the ingredient quantities….


Preparation time

30 min


Cooking time

At least 45 min,
better 1,5 h


for 4 people


  • 4 large fennel bulbs (with fennel fronds)
  • 2 large cans of peeled tomatoes (solo pomodoro)
  • approx. 250 g fennel salami
  • approx. 100 g green olives (pitted)
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tsp peppercorns

Sugo with fennel, green olives and fennel salami

Matches …

… as pasta: penne
… as wine: a deep red Primitivo


You want a vegan sugo? Omit the fennel salami.


Place fennel seeds and peppercorns in a mortar and pound coarsely.

Cut fennel salami into bite-sized cubes.

Wash fennel thoroughly, pluck fennel greens and set aside. Cut fennel into bite-sized strips as well.

Cut green olives into slices.

Put olive oil in large enough pot, heat strongly.

Briefly roast crushed fennel seeds and peppercorns.

Reduce heat, add fennel salami and cook 3-5 min. sear.

Fennel salami fry

Sauté crushed fennel seeds and peppercorns with the fennel salami.

Add the fennel and sauté.

Add peeled tomatoes, bring to a boil.

If you use canned peeled tomatoes – like I do – dump some water into the empty cans. This then results in, er, “tomato water”. This is wonderful for adding to our sugo when it loses too much liquid during the boiling down process….

Add green olives.

Boil down the sauce over moderate heat without a lid (if it bubbles away quietly, everything is fine). Give your sugo with fennel, green olives and fennel salami time. At least 45 min. should already be. Longer – much longer (double the time) is much better.

Check in with your Sugo from time to time. Is he all right? Does it still have enough liquid, or does it need some “tomato water”? Stir it lovingly. Grab your favorite spoon and taste how the flavors develop.

Sugo with fennel, green olives and fennel salami

Cook the sauce over moderate heat without a lid for at least 45 minutes. The longer, the better.

After 1.5 -2 hrs, I take my sugo off the stove and let it cool. Its consistency should not be too liquid, rather a little mushy. Don’t worry if it seems too firm, that can easily be corrected later with a little pasta water.

If you followed our quantities, take off half now and freeze it. If you have enough time, let your sugo steep overnight, well covered. This gives it even more power.

Bringing things together

Decide on your favorite pasta. I think penne are ideal for this dish. The short diagonally cut tubular pasta is hollow inside and absorbs the sugo wonderfully.

Ideally, cook your pasta al dente.

If your sugo needs liquid, add some of the pasta water. Not too much, we want a creamy sauce.

Drain the pasta (please DO NOT rinse – this deeply hurts the Italian soul and also rinses the flavor from the pasta).

Put the pasta on a deep plate, add sugo with fennel, green olives and fennel salami, now add some of the plucked fennel greens on top and serve immediately – that’s how the Germans do it (looks pretty too).

But any Italian mom would be horrified now: Questi tedeschi!
She takes a large bowl, puts the noodles in it and spreads them out so that there is a dent in the middle. Into it she dumps the sugo, scatters the fennel greens to taste, and slams the bowl down on the family table with rapid momentum. Basta pasta…

Whatever you decide, we wish you a good appetite.

Sugo with fennel, green olives and fennel salami

Sugo with fennel, green olives and fennel salami and penne.

Sugo with fennel, green olives and fennel salami Last Update: 2019-04-26T12:30:26+02:00 da Thorsten
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