Whenever I leave a few tomatoes out on the counter for a few days too many, they become perfect for making sauce. Here’s my favourite.
This recipe comes from the book Mediterranean Summer by Chef David Shalleck. It’s his account of a summer spent as the chef on board the yacht Serenity, cooking for a well-to-do Italian family. The client, Il Dottore did not want to see onions visible in any of his food, so if you are dealing with an eater like this, this recipe is even better for you.
1/4 cup pure olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, peeled, cut into 6 wedges, and the layers separated
3 large garlic cloves, peeled and lightly crushed
1 tablespoon roughly chopped anchovy fillet
2 tablespoons finely chopped Italian parsley
2 lbs of ripe tomatoes, chopped and pureed
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
1 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt
1 teaspoon sugar
Heat the olive oil, onion and garlic together in a nonreactive saucepan large enough to hold the tomato puree over medium-low heat. A pot lined with stainless steel works best because it will not affect the flavour of the sauce. Cook, stirring from time to time, until the onion and garlic are soft but not browned, 8 to 10 minutes from when the onion starts to sizzle. Remove the onion and add the anchovy. Using a wooden spoon, mash the anchovy with the garlic so that they combine into a paste.
Add the parsley, stir, and continue to cook for 30 seconds, then add the tomato puree, oregano, hot pepper, salt and sugar. Adjust the heat to keep the sauce at a low, steady boil and cook, stirring from time to time to keep the sauce from burning on the bottom, until the sauce starts to thicken, 30 to 40 minutes.
The sauce will have lightened in colour, and the bubbles will pop on the surface rather than coming from within. Check the seasoning and add oregano, hot pepper or salt to taste if needed.