Umami Rich Tomato Sauce

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Our umami rich tomato sauce is the best way to upgrade your weeknight pasta dinner recipe. We used fish sauce and anchovies as a way to add salty complex flavors but deglazed our pot with sweet vermouth to balance the saltiness with sweeter flavors.


Serves: 4-5, over pasta

Cost: $2.24 per serving 

Skill Level: Easy

Time to Make: About 60 minutes (30-45 minutes inactive)

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This tomato sauce is filled with complexity of umami, sweet, and salty flavors!

Ingredients for Umami Rich Tomato Sauce

1 yellow onion, peeled and diced

12 cloves garlic, peeled

2 teaspoons crushed red pepper

4 anchovies from a can

1 teaspoon Asian fish sauce (or colatura di alici)

Juice of half a lemon

2 teaspoons neutral cooking oil

4 tablespoons butter (more or less, depending on preference)

2 tablespoons sweet vermouth

28-ounce can of fire-roasted crushed tomatoes

Salt and pepper to taste

For Serving (Optional):

Cooked pasta, parmesan cheese, freshly cracked black pepper, and extra virgin olive oil


Prepare the Umami Base:

In a food processor, combine the garlic, crushed red pepper, anchovies, fish sauce, and lemon juice and pulse until minced. Set aside to allow the flavors to mellow out.

Brown the Onions:

In a wide pot or rondeau, heat 2 teaspoons neutral oil over medium heat. Add the diced onion and cook, stirring regularly, for 12-15 minutes until the onions begin to turn brown around the edges, adjusting the heat as necessary to keep the onions from burning.

Cook the Aromatics:

Melt the butter into the onions. Once melted and frothy, add the minced aromatics from the food processor. Cook for 1 minute until fragrant.

Finish the Sauce:

Deglaze the pot with the sweet vermouth and scrape up any browned bits stuck to the bottom. Pour in the crushed tomatoes and stir to incorporate all the aromatics with the tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper.

Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 30-45 minutes. Taste and season to your preferences.

To Serve:

Toss cooked pasta with the sauce and divide between plates. Garnish with parmesan cheese, black pepper, and extra virgin olive oil. Enjoy!

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