The November/Thanksgiving issue of Bon Appétit is my second favorite issue (first being July’s “Barbecue”). But this November, it wasn’t a Thanksgiving recipe that caught my attention. It was this tomato pasta sauce recipe. The description read, “Roasting coaxes depth from canned tomatoes, instilling a long-cooked flavor. A generous amount of garlic and anchovies adds even more character.” Hmmmm. I was pretty skeptical when I read through the recipe…I thought it actually looked too easy (and didn’t have enough ingredients) for that to be true. Plus, one of the few ingredients is anchovies (read on). But I know that one of our favorite restaurants when we visit our son in Portland, Nostrana, makes a gnocchi with butter tomato sauce, so I decided to try it.
Just FYI, usually if a recipe calls for anchovies, I leave them out. But I guess I’m getting a little braver in the trying-foods-you-always-thought-you-hated department in my old age so I decided to go for it. And, I’ve reading a lot lately about anchovies adding “umami” (you know, “Umami /uːˈmɑːmi/, a savory taste, is one of the five basic tastes…together with sweet, sour, bitter and salty”). And FYI again, did you know that Worcestershire sauce is made from anchovies? And I happen to really like Worcestershire. Alright. I’ll add the anchovies.
But back to the tomato sauce. Once again, BA did not disappoint. This is so unbelievably easy and delicious. It takes almost no time to make and you’d think it had been simmering in a pot all day. Honestly the best tomato sauce I’ve ever had. I don’t believe I’ll ever simmer again! And, yes, I’ll be adding the anchovies.
Butter-Roasted Tomato Sauce
Bon Appétit, November 2013
1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
8 garlic cloves, peeled, crushed
2 anchovy fillets packed in oil
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes plus more for serving
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
12 ounces bucatini or spaghetti
Finely grated Parmesan (for serving)
Preheat oven to 425°F. Combine tomatoes (crushing them with your hands), garlic, anchovies, butter, and 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes in a 13×9″ baking dish; season with salt and black pepper.
Roast, tossing halfway through, until garlic is very soft and mixture is very thick, 35–40 minutes. Using a potato masher or fork, mash to break up garlic and tomatoes. (I mixed it a little bit with my hand blender.)
Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup pasta cooking liquid.
Return pasta to pot and add tomato sauce and pasta cooking liquid. Cook over medium-high heat, tossing until sauce coats pasta, about 3 minutes. Serve topped with Parmesan and more red pepper flakes.
DO AHEAD: Tomato sauce can be made 4 days ahead. Let cool; cover and chill. Reheat before mixing with pasta.
Sounds really delicious! Do you have any suggestions for an anchovy substitute? Ideally something that adds the “umami” but not the fish? (guess Worcestershire is out!) Thanks!
I’m going to have to research this further. I’ve seen substitutes that include using nori (dried seaweed) or capers. I found one comment that says you can buy umami paste (at gourmet stores like Sur la Table and Dean & DeLuca), but after “googling” that, it also includes anchovy paste. Another person says to make your own paste by combining mushrooms, tomatoes, Parmesan cheese, balsamic vinegar and black olives. Hmmm…
Squeeze a small amount of umami paste into a heating pan. Add a small amount of white wine and stir well. This will create a sauce that can be added on top of vegetables or meats or used like a bouillon.
This really sounds easy. I always make such disappointing tomato sauce that I will be very happy if this turns out even half as well for me.