American

Umami Rich Pasta Sauce

January 21, 2019
Author Notes

Over the years I’ve used a variety of tomato sauce recipes which eventually led me to develop my own. I hope this recipe can act as a stepping stone to making your own pantry pasta sauce, if you don’t have one already.

Truthfully, I usually do not measure any of the ingredients, so these measurements are approximations. However, the beauty of this recipe is that many of the ingredients can be tweaked to your liking; such as the anchovies, garlic, salt, pepper, butter and Parmesan. Sometimes I’ll omit the anchovies and add extra garlic when cooking for my vegetarian friends. This is a great recipe to help you become more comfortable cooking with anchovies because they melt in the olive oil. It makes enough to serve multiple people or to last you throughout the week.

Note: I like to have extra sauce, which is why this recipe calls for only 1/2 or 3/4 packet of pasta. I don't recommend using an entire packet of pasta because it will absorb the sauce and may become dry. —Adeline Baesler

  • Prep time 10 minutes
  • Cook time 30 minutes
  • Serves 3
Ingredients
  • 1/2-3/4 packets of pasta (bucatini, spaghetti, linguine)
  • 1 24 oz. can of San Marzano whole peeled tomatoes
  • 3 anchovies or 1 Tbs. of anchovy paste
  • 1 small onion finely chopped
  • 2-3 garlic cloves minced
  • crushed red pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • salt to taste
  • freshly grated Parmesan
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. Put a large pot of water over high heat. Add plenty of salt. As Samin Nosrat notes in "Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat", the pasta water should taste like the sea. Once the water is boiling, add the pasta. Cook 1-2 minutes before 'al dente' according to package instructions. Before draining the pasta, reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water.
  2. Meanwhile, put a large skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil and anchovies. Stir and break up anchovies to facilitate melting in oil, about 1-2 minutes.
  3. Once anchovies have melted, turn heat to medium-low. Add onions, garlic, salt & red pepper to taste. Stir to coat onions and garlic in oil. Be sure to not brown the onions or garlic. If too much olive oil is absorbed to where the bottom of the pan is not coated, add a little more. The lower the heat the better, so that onions are evenly cooked through and soft. About 12-15 min. Stir occasionally.
  4. Meanwhile, add the canned tomatoes to a food processor and pulse 2-3 times. Or if you prefer a more rustic texture (or don’t want to deal with a cleaning the food processor) feel free to chop up the tomatoes to your liking. If you decide to go with the chopping route, make sure to save as much of the tomato liquid as possible.
  5. Once the onions are cooked, add the tomatoes/liquid and salt to taste. Bring the heat to medium so that the sauce begins to boil. Stir gently until ingredients are incorporated. Depending on the thickness of the sauce, gradually add the reserved pasta water. Be sure to taste the sauce as you're adding the pasta water to make sure it's not diluting the flavor. Allow the sauce to boil for 1 minute.
  6. Bring the sauce to a simmer. Stir in the butter and grated Parmesan until incorporated. Allow the sauce to reduce for 5-7 minutes.
  7. Add the pasta to the skillet. Stir to evenly coat the pasta. Serve immediately and top with extra grated Parmesan along with a thick slice of buttered toast.
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