I was sorry to hear the news of famed Italian cookbook author Marcella Hazan passing away this morning at her home in Florida. One of the first to bring real Italian recipes to home cooks in North America, I will always be grateful to her for her simple red sauce – simmering a pot reminds me of a bustling Italian kitchen, filled to the brim with pasta and family. I never fancied myself the homemade tomato sauce type, not being one to grow tomatoes nor too keen on peeling them. But with this simple formula, you needn’t do either.
All you need are good quality canned tomatoes (which are available year-round), an onion and a good lump of butter. Fresh basil would be delicious, but not neccesary. You simmer it, mash or puree it, and that’s it – double or triple the recipe if you want to stock your freezer. Every family should have this in their repertoire – it’s perfect for getting through the busy, chilly fall season on a well-fed stomach.
Marcella Hazan’s Tomato Sauce
1-2 cans 28 oz (796 mL) can good-quality whole tomatoes, preferably San Marzano
1/3 cup butter
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and halved
salt, to taste
Put the tomatoes, butter and onion in a pot over medium heat. Once it starts to bubble, turn the heat down to medium-low and simmer for about 45 minutes. Put a lid on if you don’t want any red spatters in the vicinity of the pot. Stir occasionally, squishing the tomatoes against the side of the pot with your spoon.
Fish out the onion halves (or leave it in and puree the lot) and if you like, blend until smooth with a hand-held immersion blender. Serve hot, ladled over spaghetti.