Serious Eats: Talk

Tomato Sauce & Vanilla?

A family friend keeps giving me tomatoes. They're big and beautiful, but I can't eat another fresh tomato to save my life so I'd like to make some pasta sauce. I have a way of making sauce with fresh tomatoes, but I remembered a recipe I saw on Bravo's Chef Academy with Jean-Christophe Novelli. He taught the students how to make his grandmother's tomato sauce, but along with star anise (which I think is weird), he also added a vanilla bean.

Vanilla beans are expensive and I don't want to waste one on tomato sauce if it's going to taste unusual, so has anyone ever heard of that? What does it add to the sauce? Do you reccomend it? It seems completely bizarre to me. I've heard of adding sugar to tomato sauce, but other than this Novelli recipe, I've never heard of adding a vanilla bean.

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