A stalwart of the Italian kitchen.
5 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
2-3 canned anchovies in oil, drained, mopped with paper towels and mashed (optional)
2 small dried ‘bird’s eye’ chillies, crushed (optional)
2 x 400g (15-ounce) cans Italian crushed tomatoes
2 Tbsp tomato concentrate
1 Tbsp capers, drained (chop if large)
1 tsp dried Sicilian or Greek oregano
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
½ cup black olives, pitted and chopped
1 Put the extra virgin olive oil in a heavy-based saucepan, set it over a medium heat and drop in the garlic. Sauté the garlic until it turns a pale biscuit colour – no further. Remove pan from heat, cool briefly, then stir in anchovies and chillies, if using. Carefully tip in the tomatoes, then add ¼ cup water (use the water to swirl around the cans to get the last bits), tomato concentrate, capers, oregano, a few large pinches of salt and some black pepper (omit the salt if you are adding anchovies; check the seasoning once the sauce is cooked).
2 Bring the sauce to a bubble, then lower the heat. Cook gently, stirring occasionally, for 25–30 minutes, or until the tomatoes are pulpy. Add the olives, then check for seasoning.
Don’t add anchovies to a really sizzling hot pan )the pan shouldn’t be that hot anyway because you risk burning the garlic) because it can cause the anchovies to seize, then they go hard. What you want is to encourage them to break apart and soften into the sauce so they work as a seasoning.
If the sauce is not for immediate use, cool and refrigerate. It can also be frozen.