Tomato Sauce with Butter and Onion

August 30, 2012

OHM Marcella Hazan Tomato Sauce with Butter and Onion

I long ago dogeared a simple, but glorious sounding recipe for Tomato Sauce with Butter and Onion by Marcella Hazan. Then, for some inexplicable reason, I never made it. Maybe it’s because everyone else did. Seriously. Gilt called this “the most talked about buttery tomato pasta recipe ever“. Enough said. What could I add?

Not much is the answer. Truth be told, this recipe is spectacular as is (of course!) and already widely available. But I’m posting it anyway because I finally got around to making this sauce and it’s sublime, soulful, easy and a sure favorite with kids. You I don’t have to be annoyed anymore when the kids want pasta with nothing but a simple tomato sauce.

I also just want to make sure that you have the recipe. Because—seriously—you need it.

Make this on Sunday to have on hand for the week. You can also make it the day of—it’s certainly low maintenance enough—but you’ll need about 45 minutes to let it cook down, a little longer if you double the recipe to stock your freezer.

Also, for all you folks enjoying the last vacation days of summer, this is the PERFECT recipe for when you get back and have nothing in the fridge. You only need three pantry staples plus pasta, all of which I’m sure you have on hand.

You can make this sauce with fresh tomatoes, too. If you’re interested in that, this is the time! Marcella’s recipe in The Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking calls for 2 pounds of fresh tomatoes for every 28-ounce can. You can also see how the folks at Food52 make this sauce with fresh tomatoes.

If there’s only one recipe you save to your recipe box (there on the right!), this is the one.

Marcella Hazan’s Tomato Sauce with Onion and Butter
From The Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking
(can be shared with kids 6+ mos)*
Serves 6 (for 1 to 1 1/2 pounds of pasta)

1 28-ounce can San Marzano tomatoes
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium onion, peeled and cut in half
Salt to taste
Freshly grated Parmesan, for serving

1. Put tomatoes and all of their juices in a saucepan, crushing the tomato flesh with your hands. Add butter, onion and salt. Cook, uncovered, at a very low, but steady simmer for about 45 minutes, or until the fat floats free from the tomato (which means that the water has cooked off and the tomatoes have concentrated into a tasty sauce). While cooking, stir from time to time, mashing larger pieces with the back of a wooden spoon. Taste and adjust the salt. Discard onion before tossing sauce with cooked pasta or cooling sauce to pack in an airtight container for storage in the fridge or freezer. (You can also keep the onion for something—it is delicious!)

*Note: This sauce is a great way to add flavor to baby’s food. Spoon a little bit onto spinach, polenta, rice cereal or pastina and puree as necessary with grated Parmesan for your littlest eaters. A delicious first food!

4 Responses

  1. Liz says:

    Seems too easy! I will definitely have to try it. We eat a lot of pasta, usually with my home made veg sauce, but it’s nice to have more than one sauce recipe around!

  2. Loved this simple recipe. Sounding very delicious too.

  3. Kristin P. says:

    Any suggestions for how to use the onion? Love this sauce and would love any ideas on how to take the flavors to other delicious recipes!

  4. One Hungry Mama says:

    Kristin – what an interesting question! You mean how to use the onion that’s been cooking in the sauce, right? As an alternative to dumping it? No genius plan comes to mind immediately, though my initial thought is to puree it, maybe we a little sauce, and keep it to stir that into jarred sauce to give it a flavor boost when you’re in a time crunch, or to stir it into polenta with Parmesan. In fact, you could probably stir it into a stew, too! Let me know what you try or if you have other ideas!

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