This classic sauce is magic—it’s delicious over fish, poultry, game, meats, polenta, grains, and pasta, so everyone from omnivores to vegetarians and vegans can enjoy…though non-meat eaters will want to forgo the anchovies and add a bit of miso.
Yield: about 3 cups
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
5 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
5 anchovy fillets (rinse if salt-packed)
1/3—1/2 cup roughly chopped kalamata olives
2 tablespoons capers, drained, rinsed, the squeezed-out
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 28-ounce can Italian plum tomatoes drained and crushed
(Note: Don’t be tempted to use fresh tomatoes, their flavor is too light)
1-1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 cup basil, chopped and/or 2 tablespoons pesto
In a bowl, crush the canned tomatoes with a fork or your hands.
Add the olive oil to a large, wide skillet. Immediately add the garlic and anchovies—to the cold oil—and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the garlic is golden, about 2 minutes. Add the olives, capers, and red pepper flakes and stir for a minute or so, then add the crushed tomatoes and tomato paste. Continue to cook and stir until the sauce thickens and darkens, about 3-4 minutes. Add the basil and/or pesto. Cook over medium low heat for another 5—15 minutes. Serve over your favorite accompaniment.
Notes: If serving with poultry, fish, or meat, you can cook them right in the pan with the sauce. If serving over pasta, use dried varieties; fresh is too delicate. Shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano can be used as a finishing touch.