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Playing Missy Robbins' 30 Clove Sauce

“When you see the thirty cloves actually laid out in front of you, don’t get nervous and start second-guessing –the garlic is cooked very slowly, which brings out its inherent sweetness. I like to leave some of the cloves whole so that I discover them like surprise gifts at random bites while I eat.” 


  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 30 cloves garlic, (about 2 large heads)
  • 3 San Marzano tomatoes, 28-ounce cans
  • 2 tablespoons fennel seeds
  • 1/2 tablespoon red chili flakes, crushed
  • 3 sprigs basil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon salt, kosher


Serves: 6 cups


In a large, heavy saucepan over medium-low heat, warm the olive oil. Add the garlic and cook until softened and it begins to caramelize to a golden color.

While the garlic cooks, use a colander to drain the tomatoes over a small bowl. Reserve the juice. Use your hands to squeeze and crush the tomatoes.

Use the back of a fork to smash half of the garlic cloves in the pot. Stir in the crushed tomatoes, fennel seed and chili flakes. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the flavors have melded and the sauce has thickened slightly, about 45 minutes.

Add the basil and salt, and cook for 5 minutes. Remove the basil. Taste and adjust the seasoning if desired, but remember the pasta water will also season it further.

Excerpt from Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner... Life: Recipes and Adventures from My Home Kitchen by Missy Robbins. Copyright © 2017 by Missy Robbins. Used with permission by Rizzoli. All rights reserved.