Even with the inevitable post holiday – back to school feelings it is nice to be easing back into the ebb and flow of our daily life, especially where food is concerned. This is one of our favouries, simple, judicious and delicious.
Marcella Hazan’s Tomato sauce with butter and onion
This sauce never ceases to surprise and delight me, a bit of soft red alchemy. Just three ingredients, a large tin of plum tomatoes – San Marzano if you can find them – a thick slice of butter and a yellow onion, peeled and cut into two. You simmer this trio together – slowly and steadily for about 45 minutes, a stir here, blip blip, a squash there – and something almost magical happens, the three ingredients come together into thick, soft red, full flavoured, velvety sauce, luxurious and simple at the same time.
The flavour is rather surprising if you’re used to tomato sauce made with olive oil and garlic. The butter gives this sauce with a soft, round, creamy nature, it also tempers the acidity whilst bringing out the sweet tomato flavour, which in turn, is balanced by a deep savoury base note from the gently stewed onion.
We usually have this sauce with Spaghetti.
This sauce also works beautifully with fresh tomatoes (peeled and coarsely chopped) but it’s firmly associated with winter in our house – maybe it’s the warm velvety texture – and so gets made with tinned tomatoes.
Tomato sauce with butter and onion
Adapted from Marcella Hazan’s The essentials of classic Italian cooking
- 800g / 28oz tinned whole San Marzano tomatoes
- 70g /5 tbsp butter
- 1 medium-sized yellow onion
- salt (yes, so it’s four ingredients really)
- 400g spaghetti
- Parmesan cheese
Peel the onion and chop it in half.
Put the tomatoes, onion and butter in a heavy based saucepan or frying pan and put the pan on a modest flame.
Allow the sauce to reach to a gentle simmer, stir in the melting butter, adjust flame if necessary so the sauce cooks at a slow but steady simmer for 45 minutes and the fat is floating free from the tomato. You need to stir every now and then, gently squashing and crushing the tomatoes against the side of the pan with a wooden spoon.
Remove sauce from the heat, discard the onion, taste, add salt, taste and keep warm while you…
Cook the spaghetti in Plenty of well salted (10g to every litre) water until al dente, drain pasta. Pour half the sauce into a warm bowl and add the drained pasta, stir. Divide the pasta between the warm individual bowls and finish each one with a spoon or two more of the sauce. Sprinkle with parmesan to finish.