Eastern Tomato Sauce

I have a few tomato sauces that I think are unique, and this is one of them. The flavor is more vibrant and lighter than most tomato sauces, which tend to be back-of-the-throat acidic. I like to serve this sauce over thicker pastas like bucatini or pappardelle, but it's equally good with brown rice or lentils. Garnish with cilantro to enhance the sour-sweet characteristic of the sauce. Yields 4 servings.


  • 3 large shallots
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 big bunch basil
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 anchovy filets
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • 28-ounce can while peeled tomatoes
  • Salt


  1. Mince shallots, thinly slice garlic, and chiffonade basil.
  2. In a pot over medium heat, sweat the shallots with a pinch of salt about 8 minutes, then add the garlic and anchovy.
  3. Sauté until the garlic starts to brown and the anchovy filets have dissolved, a couple minutes more.
  4. Add the brown sugar and stir constantly for another minute until the mixture is evenly mixed and slightly darkened.
  5. Add the vinegar and cook, stirring constantly, for a minute until evenly mixed.
  6. Add the entire can of tomatoes with the liquid. Bring to a boil, breaking up the whole tomatoes (careful, they may splatter) while it comes up to a boil.
  7. Reduce to a simmer and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching. Stir in the basil and taste for seasoning.