This orecchiette and parmesan-tomato sauce is amped up with caramelized onions, sweet, red vermouth, parmesan rinds, and sautéed earthy mushrooms to help offset the acidity of the tomatoes.
You will simply love this sweet vermouth tomato sauce; all of the flavors pair together perfectly for a jammy, flavorful sauce. The best part is that it doesn’t take hours to simmer on the stove. Despite its relatively short cooking time, the flavors are rich and delicious.
This recipe for orecchiette and parmesan-tomato sauce is pretty easy to prepare. It is really only time-consuming for the amount of time you’ll spend browning the onions and them mushrooms. Be sure not to skip the step of fully caramelizing the onions and thoroughly browning the mushrooms as they will lend a lot of extra oomph to the final dish.
This parmesan-tomato sauce is comprised of a few main components:
- First, caramelized Vidalia onion
- Next, browned mushrooms
- Then, add sweet red vermouth
- Finally, throw in crushed tomatoes
- Finish the sauce with parmesan rinds
Each of these ingredients adds such a unique flavor to this tomato sauce and you will love the final product!
If you don’t have parmesan rinds, you can skip them and load up on freshly grated parmesan for garnish!
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Orecchiette and Parmesan-Tomato Sauce
- Wide pot
- Large pot
- 1 teaspoon neutral cooking oil plus more, as needed
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 Vidalia onion peeled and thinly sliced
- 10 ounces cremini mushrooms sliced
- ½ cup sweet vermouth (red)
- 1 cup vegetable stock
- 15 ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 2 parmesan rinds optional
- 1 pound orecchiette
- Salt, pepper, garlic powder, pinch of sugar, and crushed red pepper to taste
- Grated parmesan
- Freshly minced parsley
Caramelize the Onions:
- Heat the neutral cooking oil in a wide pot over medium heat. Add the onions and cook for 8-10 minutes until they begin to turn brown, flipping regularly. Melt the butter into the pot and adjust the heat as necessary to keep them from burning. Continue cooking over moderate heat, turning often, for an additional 10-15 minutes until they are well caramelized. Transfer to a bowl and sprinkle with salt.
Brown the Mushrooms:
- If the pot seems dry, add a little oil. Add the mushrooms and cook, turning regularly, for 8-12 minutes until they release liquid and begin to crisp up. Adjust the heat as necessary to prevent them from burning. Season with salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper.
Deglaze the Pot:
- Return the caramelized onions to the pot and add the sweet vermouth, scraping up any browned bits stuck to the bottom. Bring to a boil for 2-3 minutes until reduced slightly.
Finish the Sauce:
- Add the vegetable stock and crushed tomatoes and stir to combine. Add the parmesan rinds and season with more salt, pepper, and a liberal shake of crushed red pepper. If you like a sweeter sauce, add a pinch of sugar. Add a sprinkle of garlic powder, if desired (or you can add fresh minced garlic to the mushrooms for about 1 minute before you deglaze the pot!).
- Bring the sauce to a very low boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Taste and season again to your preferences.
Boil the Pasta:
- Bring a large pot of liberally salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package instructions until al dente. Reserve 1/3 cu pasta cooking water.
Finish the Dish:
- Add the pasta cooking water to the pot and bring to a low boil. Add the pasta and cook for 1-2 minutes until it is glossy and coated with sauce. Turn off the heat and serve immediately.
- Divide the orecchiette between bowls and garnish with freshly minced parsley and more grated parmesan cheese. Enjoy!