You say tomato, I say make this sauce. Now.

I feel a bit cheated that I only found out about this recipe today. Many people have talked about this sauce on their blogs (too many to list here), and if it weren’t for them, I never would have found this recipe. I was skeptical that one could make a flavorful tomato sauce without the regular players: garlic, basil, olive oil. But one bite and I was a believer. One bite completely transformed my crummy Friday and made it magical. This sauce is THAT GOOD.

It isn’t hard to make, in fact, there are only three ingredients. I’ve made a lot of tomato sauce — many varieties — and this is easily one of my favorites OF MY LIFE. It is so good that it may change your life. And if you think it’s impossible for a tomato sauce to do that, let me just say that this one will make you realize (or remind you) that good food doesn’t have to be hours in the kitchen with a long list of exotic ingredients and complicated techniques. It will reassure you that there is good in this world.

This sauce might need to simmer for a bit, but trust me, it’s worth it. And it might have a bit of butter. Okay, it might have a LOT of butter.

But do yourself a favor and try it. Just once. You’ll thank me for it.

Tomato Sauce with Onion and Butter
Adapted from Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, by Marcella Hazan

You need a 28 oz can of plum tomatoes. If you’re lucky enough to have San Marzano, use them. I did not. I had a run of the mill can of supermarket tomatoes, the only one in my pantry. I don’t even know if I can get SM up here in the great north. While I love them, not having them didn’t make this recipe any less good.

Add the tomatoes to a medium sized pot, a good heavy one if you’ve got it. Take a medium sized yellow onion and peel it/cut it in half. Add that to the tomatoes along with 70g (5 tbsp) unsalted butter. Bring it all to a simmer and let it work its magic for about 45 minutes, occasionally smashing the tomatoes against the pan with the back of a wooden spoon to break them down.

That tomato and onion sauce. Thank you, Internet.

After 45 minutes you’ll take out the onion (and if you’re like me you will eat it because OH MY GOD DELICIOUS), season to taste with salt and serve over your favorite pasta. I also added a shake of red pepper flakes to mine, because we love them. It was just fine without.

We had ours on fettuccine

Definitely entering our regular rotation. I will try not to eat this every day this winter until the snow has melted in May, but no promises.


  1. Just found this thru StumbleUpon. If I can use a Michigan connection to impress my Italian MIL, I’m ecstatic. This sauce recipe looks delicious and I’m using it Sunday for sure! Thanks.

  2. I let this simmer for a few hours because I didn’t have anything else to do, and then used an immersion blender to make it a smooth sauce…holy moly. Never buying canned sauce again.

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