Tag Archives: fennel seeds

Tomato and fennel chipotle relish


So what makes a good tomato relish?

Fresh tomatoes (as opposed to tinned) are an excellent start, and if possible, organic tomatoes will improve your relish by a good deal more.

It goes without saying to use onion and garlic. And seeds and spices add their own tributes. Fennel seeds are a favourite of mine. The aniseed taste is perfect with tomato as is cinnamon and all spice.

This is the part in the post where I tell you how much I love chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. Are you a fan?

I’m mad for their flavour. Chipotle peppers are ripe Jalapeños that are dried and smoked, the adobo part is the sauce they come in. The sauce should be used too, it’s packed with the same smoky rich taste.

I’ve continuously kept a can in the pantry ever since I discovered I could buy them at my local butcher. Since then I’m seeing them available in more and more stores. Good green grocers are now stocking them and most delicatessens have them too.








When I have a jar of this hand made relish in the fridge, I know straight off the bat I can jazz up any type of sandwich. Be it the toasted or the fresh, or on a fried egg roll.

I can spread it on a pizza base and have a hot lunch in no time with the help from just a few olives, feta and grated zucchini.

Or, I can add a spoonful or two to a soup or a stew. To lift its origins.

What about added to  dipping sauce?  Use either mayonnaise or yoghurt with just a few spoons of relish mixed through it to eat with anything deep fried – especially these smoked trout croquettes.

Be sure the efforts of making this relish are worth while – guaranteed to help lessen the ‘staring into the fridge declaring there’s nothing to eat’ scenarios.


Tomato, fennel and chipotle relish

Makes about 3 medium sized jars


2 brown onions, sliced thinly

4 cloves of garlic, sliced

1 tbsp fennel seeds

1 kg tomatoes, chopped into large dice

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp all spice

2-3 chipotle chillies in adobo sauce, chopped finely

125ml (1/2 cup) apple cider vinegar

100g (1/2 cup) caster sugar

1 tbsp salt

Grape seed or rice bran oil

Heat 2 tbsp oil in a large heavy based saucepan. Add onions, garlic and fennel seeds, cook on a low heat for 10 minutes.

Add the diced tomatoes, spices, chipotle chillies, vinegar, sugar and salt. Bring to the boil, stir regularly. Cook on medium to low heat for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or till the relish is thickened and the water from the tomatoes has reduced away.

Meanwhile, sterilise 3 – 4 jars – see Tip – and spoon relish in whilst hot. Seal and store in the pantry. Store in the fridge after opening.

Tip : sterilising jars

Pre heat oven to 120C. Place the washed jars, minus any plastic seals in the oven on a tray for 20 minutes, remove and fill jars.

Or, Place jars and lids in a tray. Fill the jars and lids with boiling water, stand for several minutes, then, and this is sometimes the awkward part, pour the hot water out without burning yourself, allow jars to steam dry. Fill jars.

Pork and fennel meatballs



There’s a bakery here in Sydney called Bourke street bakery. It’s become an institution with Sydney siders for their excellent bread, yummy baked tarts, and their delicious sausage rolls. My favourite is the pork and fennel. And inspiration for this recipe comes from this excellent combination of pork mince and fennel seed. I love fennel seeds. For a tiny seed, they pack a punch of flavour.  A little heat helps release the aniseed taste, which disperses through the mince, and imparts a soft, sweet fennel flavour. If you’ve never experimented with them here’s your chance.


As you’ll see in the recipe, the meatballs are actually half pork mince and half veal mince. This is what the Italians use when making meatballs. This is the real thing. Now a word of advice. Don’t be tempted to  substitute the veal mince for beef mince. The flavour of beef mince just doesn’t compare. Also, buy your mince from a butcher not a supermarket. A butcher tends to grind their mince on a coarser setting than a supermarket does. Coarser ground mince is what you need for a good meatball.



Yum, I’m getting hungry! On to the methodical task of rolling the meatballs. Next a fast red wine sauce, and a quick cooking time of about 15 minutes.When it’s time to eat, I serve them with fettuccine or linguini. But you could also serve them with mash potato, or if you’re feeling adventurous, and want to fancy up the meal, soft polenta with any steamed green would also be delicious. There’s no right or wrong way to serve them, as long as they’re hot and fresh and straight from the pan.



Pork and fennel meatballs

For the meatballs

250g pork mince

250g veal mince

1 red onion, diced

2 tsp fennel seeds

2 cloves garlic, grated

½ cup bread crumbs

1 egg

For the sauce

¾ cup red wine

700g jar passata (see note below)

2 cloves garlic, grated

1 tsp sugar

salt, pepper

Glug extra virgin olive oil

To serve

fettuccine or linguini

chopped parsley


Place both minces in a large bowl. Heat a small fry pan with 1 tbsp oil; add onions and fennel seeds and cook gently for 3 minutes. Place onions in bowl with mince; add garlic, bread crumbs, egg, salt and pepper. Use your hands to squish and squeeze the mince till well combined. Roll meatballs into 2cm diameter balls and place on a tray.


 Place red wine in a medium pan and bring to the boil. Reduce by half. Add passatta, garlic, rosemary, sugar and extra virgin olive oil. Bring to the boil, season with salt and pepper and turn off the heat.


 Heat a large fry pan with 1 tbsp vegetable oil. Place meatballs in pan and seal on all sides (3-4 minutes). Add red wine sauce to meatballs, cover with a lid and simmer meatballs gently in sauce for about 10 minutes.


Meanwhile, cook pasta in plenty of salted, boiling water till just al dente. Drain pasta. Divide between bowls, ladel meatballs on top of pasta and sprinkle with chopped parsley.


Note – Passata is a smooth, pureed tomato sauce. Keep a bottle stocked in the pantry at all times. It’s great for a quick pasta sauce.