The smaller fennel bulbs at our farmers markets tend to have a more pronounced licorice flavor that pairs nicely with the tang of good tomatoes.
Cook the pasta in a large pot of lightly salted boiling water until it's tender but still firm.
Serve the sauce over the pasta, and sprinkle with Parmesan, parsley, and basil.
Heat the oil in a large, deep skillet over medium heat, and add the onion, fennel, garlic, thyme, fennel seeds, and crushed red pepper. Cook, stirring, until the onion is translucent, about 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in the white wine and the tomatoes, reduce the heat, and simmer until the tomatoes are very soft and the liquid is reduced by about half. If the sauce begins to look dry, add a little of the pasta cooking water. Season the sauce with salt and pepper.
Reprinted from Minnesota's Bounty: The Farmers Market Cookbook by Beth Dooley. Copyright © 2013 University of Minnesota Press.
"Vegetables are perishable, so we don't have any indication of what they looked like 500 years ago," says James Nienhuis, a professor in the Department of Horticulture at the University of Wisconsin.