Cook beef in a large skillet over medium-high heat, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, until browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a strainer or colander and drain off fat.
Heat oil in the skillet over medium-high heat. Add carrots, onion and celery; cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion softens and begins to brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and garlic; reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms begin to soften, 3 to 4 minutes.
Add tomatoes and mash with a potato masher. Add wine, fennel seeds, crushed red pepper, salt and the meat; bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low; cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is slightly thickened and the flavors have developed, about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook pasta until just tender, 9 to 11 minutes or according to package directions. Drain and toss with the sauce. Sprinkle with parsley, if desired. Pass Parmesan separately, if using.
Make Ahead Tip: Prepare through step 3. Cover and refrigerate the sauce for up to 2 days or freeze for up to 3 months.
If you're only serving 2 or 3 people, toss half the sauce with 6 ounces cooked pasta; freeze the remaining sauce. If you're serving more than 6 or are just feeling industrious, you can easily double the sauce recipe
Pasta cooked al dente has a lower glycemic index than overcooked pasta, and whole-wheat choices are lower than white.
I rated this recipe "great" because it is a tasty, basic recipe that I can vary each time that I make it by changing the type and the amount of meat, the spices, the vegetables, etc. I added more vegetables. If I do that again, I would add more tomato to get more sauce. I liked the taste of fennel so I didn't find it too strong. Oregano would be a good substitute.
January 31, 2010
This dish was average. It lacked flavor. Perhaps it would be better with italian sausage instead of beef? Anyhow, I'm going to try something else.
Also, the fennel was a bit much. I only used 1 tsp and it was a bit overpowering.