5 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
¼ c. olive oil
1 bulb fennel, stalks removed and cut into wedges or diced
½ onion, diced
1 28-oz can whole peeled tomatoes, drained
Crushed pepper flakes, to taste
½ c. pitted Kalamata olives, sliced in half
2 tbsp. capers, rinsed
1 14-oz can of artichoke hearts, cut in half or quarters
1 tsp. dried Italian herbs
Fresh herbs – basil, parsley or oregano
Place garlic in a small saucepan and add enough olive oil to the pan to cover the garlic. Turn the flame to the lowest setting and gently poach the garlic until it is golden brown. Strain the garlic and set aside, reserving the oil.
Warm 2 tablespoons of the garlic oil in a skillet over medium-high heat (save any extra oil for another meal). Add the fennel to the oil and sauté, stirring the fennel occasionally. When the edges have begun to caramelize, reduce the heat under the pan to medium. Add onion and stir occasionally while it cooks so that the onion sautés evenly and the fennel continues to cook through. When the onion is partly cooked, sprinkle ½ teaspoon of salt over the pan to season. After a couple of minutes, the onion will be translucent and will no longer smell or taste raw.
Meanwhile, crush the tomatoes with a fork or with your hands. When the onions are cooked through, add the tomatoes to the skillet, with some more salt and crushed red pepper flakes to taste (go easy at first, they’re hot!). Return heat to medium-high and cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes have broken down and the mixture becomes saucy, about 10 minutes. Stir in olives, capers, artichoke hearts and dried Italian herbs. Continue to simmer until the sauce becomes thick and the flavors are combined. Taste and adjust seasoning, if desired. If you like a lot of garlic flavor, toss in those beautifully poached cloves of garlic, either whole or chopped.
Just before serving, stir in torn fresh herbs. Serve warm over pasta or creamy polenta, or with crusty bread, or roasted vegetables such as broccoli or squash.