You have not lived until you’ve tried Marcella Hazan’s tomato sauce.
I had no clue what I missing until I innocently sampled this recipe over pasta one night. I wanted to lick my plate clean. In fact, it reminded me of how my grandmother used to make tomato sauce. The secret? Butter. Yes, butter. Sounds like an unusual ingredient for tomato sauce, but it adds a subtle creaminess and mellows out the acidity of the tomatoes. Heaven.
This recipe requires only 3 ingredients, 1 minute of prep time, and is dead simple to make. You literally throw everything into a pot and cook it. You don’t even have to chop the onion, OK?
For the tomatoes, you can use fresh or canned. Either way is totally fine. Just make sure that whatever you buy is good quality. My preference is whole, peeled San Marzano tomatoes that I crush directly in the pot. I also use less butter than the original recipe and have adapted my ingredients based on availability; red onion, shallots, fresh basil- it all works.
This is the only tomato sauce I make.
This simple tomato sauce is not only tasty, but it’s very versatile. I usually make one big pot and freeze the leftovers in different size containers and ziploc bags. This way I can pull out whatever I need, whenever I need it.
Then you can do this (and thank me later):
- add fresh or dried oregano to make a zesty pizza sauce
- use in soups, stews and gravies
- spaghetti & meatballs
- baked ziti
- add sauteed garlic and chilies for a spicy Arabiata sauce
- use as a base for fish stew and/or steamed mussels
- and of course, anything parmigiana
- 2 lbs. fresh, ripe tomatoes OR 1x 28-oz. can good quality whole, peeled tomatoes in juice (I use San Marzano)**
- 4 tbsp. unsalted butter
- ½ tsp sugar + more to taste
- 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and cut in ½ lengthwise
- handful of fresh basil (optional)
- salt & pepper
- In a large saucepan, bring the tomatoes, butter, sugar, onion, and basil (if using) to a gentle boil.
- Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until the tomatoes are soft and the sauce has reduced slightly, about 45 minutes.
- Gently break up the tomatoes using the back of a wooden spoon or potato masher. Discard the onion (for a smoother consistency, puree the sauce with a hand-held or standard blender).
- Taste your sauce. Season with salt and pepper, and additional sugar if necessary.
- Serve with extra fresh basil leaves.