Saturday, January 12, 2008

Simple Tomato Sauce

Marcella Hazan'a Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking is a "must have" for anyone who loves eating and cooking Italian food. It is full or opinions (regarding olive oil, "cook with the best you can afford") and somewhat unreal expectations (if you have a good, conscientious cheese dealer, ask to be notified when a fresh wheel of gorgonzola arrives from Italy), yet has loads of great recipes.

One of my go-to recipes is simply called "Tomato Sauce with Butter and Onion." It is simple, quick and great on any shape or size of pasta you have on hand. It is a bit high in fat (given the stick of butter!), but since it is meat-free, who cares? The sauce starts off kind of weird, since you don't dice the onion - just cut it in half and put it in the pot. It cooks down though and adds a great, oniony sweetness to the sauce.

Tomato Sauce with Butter and Onion
2-15 oz cans diced tomatoes (I prefer Muir Glen). Avoid "stewed" tomatoes
1 stick of butter, but into cubes
1 onion, peeled and cut in half
1 lb of pasta
Freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano. Don't fuck around with the imitation or pre-grated crap.
Salt & pepper to taste

Place canned tomatoes in a saucepan with onion and butter. Simmer for 40-45 minutes, stirring occasionally and mashing the tomato chunks with the back of a wooden spoon. Discard onion and salt & pepper to taste. Serve over pasta with grated parm.

Full Disclosure
My friend Debi read this post and reminded me that, ahem, I didn't believe a sauce this simple could taste this good. She first told me about this recipe 6 or 7 years ago and I guffawed, "what, no garlic? no herbs? impossible." I stand corrected.

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