my tomato sauce for pasta, and beyond…rating:
3 tablespoons of good olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic, mortar and pestled/crushed
3-4 Anchovies, washed and roughly chopped
1 x 400g tin good quality peeled plum tomatoes, ideally cherry
1 tbsp tomato puree
1/2 glass of wine, red or white. I prefer white
2 tbsp white wine/cider vinegar
3/4 level tsp sugar
Large handful of fresh herbs, chopped - any of the following; oregano, marjoram, basil, thyme, parsley, (ideally at least basil and one other).
Pinch of dried chill flakes
Salt and pepper to season
Heat the oil in a saucepan to a medium/low heat. Add the garlic to completely soften and cook, but do not brown - this may take ten minutes. Add the anchovies and stir and mash until more or less dissolved, then add half of the herbs and stir to combine. At this point, I tend to leave the saucepan aside for up to 20 mins in order to steep. I also occasionally pass it over the flame to reheat a little – this stews/infuses all of the flavours together – I reckon it makes a difference. If it begins to dry out a little as the oil absorbs the herbs, add a splash or two of the wine.
Turn up the heat to ¾ and add the wine, tomatoes and the puree. Stir to combine all and add a healthy few twists of black pepper and the chilli, also add just a large pinch of salt at this stage as the anchovies tend to vary in “saltiness”.
Once the sauce has boiled rapidly, (uncovered), for 7-8 minutes, (it is likely to spit), turn down to a simmer. The idea now is to cook and reduce the sauce to a smooth, less watery consistency – you decide quite how thick depending on the application, but basically this will be between an additional 15 to 40 minutes stirring often to avoid sticking. Once you are happy with the result, set aside, add the remaining herbs and stir. Heat a separate small pan containing the sugar and vinegar to ¾ heat, stir and reduce to barely a teaspoon. Add this reduction to the sauce, stir in and watch a rich glaze bring the sauce to life. Test for salt, and heat gently if adding to dissolve. This sauce of course works with all pasta, and as a base sauce for anything you may wish to add; olives, capers, meat, seafood. In addition, it;s great as the base sauce for pizza.