Since I eat simple pastas with tomato sauce so often, I'm always on the lookout for new approaches to the subject—especially now. During the summer, the quality of tomatoes is so good I'm happy to just chop them up and let them marinate with some garlic and basil, tossed with hot pasta and pillowy clouds of mozzarella. But in this seemingly interminable winter, those days seem far off. Tomato sauces need a little something interesting to make the cut.
That's why I turned to this sauce in my standby cookbook, Cucina Rustica, which packs two known umami-bombs into one recipe: the pungent anchovy and the common white mushroom. Together they deepen and enrich the sauce without a lot of simmering time. Rather than the more common pairing of basil with tomato, rosemary steps in and gets along quite well.
- 1 pound short pasta
- 1 pound white mushrooms, sliced
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 small onion, peeled and finely diced
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
- 1 15-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, crushed by hand
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary, leaved removed and minced
- 2 fillets anchovy, minced
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Grated Parmesan for finishing
Heat the oil in a large skillet over low heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook gently for 10 minutes, until soft. Turn the heat to high and add the mushrooms, cooking until all the moisture has evaporated.
Add the anchovies and cook for a minute until they begin to soften and melt into the sauce, then add the tomatoes and rosemary. Season to taste and simmer for 10-15 minutes.
In the meantime, bring a pot of salty water to boil and cook the pasta until al dente. Drain, reserving some pasta water, then add to a serving bowl and top with the sauce. Toss well, adding a bit of pasta cooking water if necessary, then top with the cheese and serve.