This simple Italian red sauce is surprisingly easy to whip up and the taste is not what you'd expect from a tomato sauce that cooks in about 10 minutes.
tomato, anchovy, garlic, kalamata, spice, capersI find that this sauce has many uses with minimal adjustments. Cook it down to a spreadable paste or thin it out with chicken stock, add herbs and stale bread, turn it into soup, turn it into a pasta salad, use it in lasagna...It really is a good recipe to have up your sleeve!
Usually I cook mine to the point where it's got some juiciness left to it and I add al dente pasta (our favorite is mafalda). In that case, the pasta absorbs the juice and the flavor stays really intense. Great flavor, too! There's none of the acidic plain tomato flavor you'd expect. It's really got a lot of depth to it. People, adults and kids alike, see the big barely cooked tomato pieces and fret. Then they taste it and then they come back for more and speak of it days later.
I cook my red sauce in a cast iron skillet. I've heard you're not supposed to cook acidic foods in cast iron but I do it anyways- all the time. (It's not a health hazard. It's something about eroding your "season" but I've had no problems.)
To be perfectly honest, this is how I prefer to eat this sauce: Straight from a bowl, totally plain except a little shaving of Parmigiano-Regianno (when I can afford it). What's the difference between between sauce and soup half the time, really?
Superb Red Sauce
5 to 10 large cloves garlic, roughly chopped (10 for me!)
Generous pinch red pepper flakes
One large anchovy fillet
1 teaspoon capers
2 handfuls kalamata olives, roughly chopped
2 large cans whole tomatoes, drained and crushed by hand (or 2 cans crushed tomatoes will do also)
Cover the bottom of a large skillet with olive oil. Add chopped garlic and turn the heat to medium-low. Add red pepper flakes and the anchovy fillet and stir together (the anchovy will break up and melt). Once it's sizzling, stir often and cook for several minutes until the garlic is golden (but not too brown).
Add olives and capers to the pan, increase the heat to medium, and stir. Cook for a minute or two, then add the crushed tomatoes to the pan and stir. Turn the heat to a couple notches over medium to bring to a boil. Keep it at a boil, stirring often until the mixture is thickening a bit and very fragrant, about 10 minutes.
Depending on your use, leave a little extra liquid (for using with pasta) or cook it down a little more (for lasagna). Try adding chicken stock, simmering for a couple minutes more and throw in some fresh basil, chopped stale bread and a drizzle of good olive oil for a simple soup.
This sauce with pasta and Parmesan makes a really great potluck dish because it's delicious even when barely warm.