The idea for this sauce came from Bravo’s Chef Academy and the original recipe can be found here.
I’ve changed it to exclude the hideously expensive vanilla bean and what I perceive as unnecessary bay leaves.
The real revelation here was the star anise. It adds a divine, sweet note to the sauce. The
fresh tomatoes and basil are amazing, but even if all you have is a can of tomatoes, a bulb of garlic and an onion, one star anise will take the sauce to a whole new level.
- fresh tomatoes (6-8 will yield a small batch)
- 2 star anise
- sea salt and black pepper
- white sugar
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- fresh garlic
- bunch fresh basil
- olive oil
Heat a large cast iron or stainless steel pan on medium heat.
Cut the tomatoes into halves and place face down in the hot pan. Season with salt, pepper and a pinch of sugar. Add the star anise. (If you can’t fit all of the tomatoes in the pan, you can wait until the first batch starts to soften and then push them aside for the second batch.)
Allow the tomatoes to cook and soften, press gently with a potato masher or fork to help them release their juices.
Reduce the heat and simmer for 1-2 hours (if you have a heat diffuser, place it under the pan and walk away for a couple of hours).
The sauce will turn a deep red colour and become thick, like tomato paste.
Crack some whole garlic cloves (I think 3-4 cloves is best) with the body of your knife. Toss in with the basil leaves, still whole. Finish the sauce with a good amount of olive oil (use enough to bring it back to a good consistency.)
This sauce is so fresh and decadent it seems to scream for fresh pasta, but really any of the dried stuff will do.