Pressure Cooker Tomato Sauce Recipe

The Food Lab

Unraveling the mysteries of home cooking through science.

Pressure Cooker Tomato Sauce Recipe

[Photograph: J. Kenji López-Alt]

The pressure cooker gives you a red sauce with all-day flavor on a weeknight schedule.

Why It Works

  • Great sauce starts with great ingredients. Use the best canned whole peeled tomatoes you can find, preferably San Marzano D.O.P. tomatoes.
  • A mixture of butter and olive oil gives the sauce extra richness while mellowing out the stronger flavors.
  • A whole onion and a carrot added to the sauce while it simmers add natural sweetness, without overwhelming the sauce with extra flavors or being cloying.
  • The pressure cooker cooks the sauce hot enough to trigger the Maillard reaction, creating complex, browned flavors in record time.
  • Fish sauce, if you'd like to use it, adds rich, intensely savory flavor (and no, it won't make the sauce taste fishy).
  • Saving some of the tomatoes to stir in at the end gives the sauce a layer of freshness.
  • Yield:Makes about 1 1/2 quarts (1.5L)
  • Active time: 20 minutes
  • Total time:1 hour 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 (28-ounce) cans whole peeled tomatoes (about 1.5kg total) (see note above)
  • 2 tablespoons (30ml) extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for finishing
  • 2 tablespoons (30g) unsalted butter
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon (about 2g) red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tablespoon (about 4g) dried oregano
  • 1 small carrot (about 4 ounces; 110g), cut into large chunks
  • 1 small onion (about 5 ounces; 140g), split in half
  • 1 large stem fresh basil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons (10ml) Asian fish sauce, optional
  • 1/4 cup (about 10g) minced fresh parsley or basil leaves (or a mix of the two)

Directions

  1. 1.

    Place tomatoes in a large bowl. Using your hands, crush tomatoes by squeezing them through your fingers until pieces no larger than 1/2 inch remain. Transfer 1 cup (240ml) of crushed tomatoes to a sealed container and reserve in the refrigerator until step 3.

  2. 2.

    Heat olive oil and butter over medium heat in a pressure cooker until butter is melted. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until softened and fragrant but not browned, about 2 minutes. Add pepper flakes and oregano and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes, carrot, onion, and basil and stir to combine. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Seal pressure cooker and bring to high pressure. Cook for 45 minutes, then release pressure and open lid.

  3. 3.

    Using tongs, discard onion halves, carrot, and basil. Add reserved tomatoes to sauce and stir to combine. Add fish sauce, if using. Season generously with salt and pepper and stir in minced herbs, along with additional olive oil as desired. Serve immediately, or allow to cool at room temperature, transfer to airtight containers, and refrigerate for up to 1 week. Sauce can also be frozen in sealed containers for up to 6 months. To reheat, warm very gently in a saucepan with 1/2 cup (120ml) water, stirring until it all melts and heats through.