Tomato and mint pasta sauce
During my first trip to Italy with my husband, we stumbled upon a refreshing and light spaghetti recipe with tomato sauce and mint at a small Osteria. Surprised, we congratulated the chef for his innovation unusual for most italian restaurants which tend to respect traditional basil.
A Balance Between Umami and Freshness
Reflecting on why these flavors work, I realized that floral sweet freshness of the mint cuts the umami from the tomato, even more so than the basil. Indeed, such herbs add freshness to balance an otherwise rather sweet umami sauce. Following this core recipe principle, have fun experimenting with other floral sweet herbs such as cilandro, dill or verveine (on the other hand: herbs like sage, rosemary or thyme have a complete different earthy and deep flavor profile).
I recommend not adding parmesan, as this would offset the added freshness with even more umami from the cheese. You should try with only a bit of mint to start, and then add more to taste. In fact, the pasta should not feel minty, but rather comforting and well known with some undescribed novelty. When I do not say there is mint in the sauce, most often my guests do not even notice: they just think it is a great pasta!
Choosing The Right Supporting Pasta Shape
My favorite pasta shape for this sauce is spaghetti, but any long, thin shape works well. Thicker pasta shapes like tagliatelle require more sauce to maintain the pasta-to-sauce ratio.
Tomato and mint pasta sauce
This delicious and unique tomato and mint pasta sauce is the perfect way to add a twist to typical tomato pasta. Blending the sweet and umami flavor of tomatoes with the freshness of mint, this recipe creates a perfect balance of flavor that both adults and children will love. Don't just take my word for it - try it yourself!
- Spaghetti or your favorite pasta for liquid sauces
- Tomato passata (tomato puree)
- Dry or fresh mint
- A bit of sugar (if necessary depending on the sweetness of your tomatoes)
- Olive oil
- Combine the tomato passata with the mint in a pan large enough to mix with the pasta once cooked. The tomatoes should cook for 10 mins or more, depending of your patience or hunger level.
- I recommend starting with a little teaspoon of mint and adding more as you go. Trust your palate and taste progressively. Are the tomatoes sweet enough or do they need a pinch more sugar? Every tomato is different, canned or fresh will also bring differences. Can you feel the mint already, or does it need some more to complement your dish? This is your pasta made for your taste, feel free to experiment: this dish is yours make it uniquely perfect for YOU.
- Boil the pasta in salted water.
- When the pasta is almost cooked (about 1min or so before), add it to the tomato and mint sauce to combine. By doing so, the pasta will slightly absorb the water of the tomato sauce, making it even more flavorful. This step is key as the sauce and the pasta should be well combined.
- Upon serving, you can drizzle a bit of fresh olive oil to exacerbate the grassy and fresh taste of this pasta. I do not recommend cheese in this case as it would offset the freshness we want to enhance in the dish with the mint.
Like vegetarian pastas? Check out my Vegetarian Mushroom Lasagna