for one pound of pasta
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon ground fennel seed
1/3 cup red wine
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 28-ounce can plum tomatoes, preferably San Marzano
1/2 cup fresh basil or Italian parsley
1/2 pound ground beef, turkey, or pork( to make this vegetarian-friendly, substitute crumbled soy protein such as Morningstar Farms )
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large, deep skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic and fennel and cook, stirring, until softened but not browned, about 3 minutes. Pour in the wine and bring to a boil. Cook until the wine is reduced to a syrupy glaze, then add the tomato paste, tomatoes and basil or parsley. Season generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper; cover and simmer 15 minutes.
In a large nonstick skillet, heat the remaining tablespoon oil until shimmering. Add the ground beef; cook, breaking up with a spoon, until done.
Puree sauce with an immersion blender until semi-smooth. Stir in cooked beef and serve over hot rigatoni pasta. Pass the cheese grater at the table.