Meatless Monday Recipe: Marcella Hazan’s Classic Tomato-Butter Sauce

Robyn Griggs Lawrence thumbnailI watched Marcella Hazan make this simple tomato sauce about 10 years ago at Aspen Food and Wine Festival. I could hardly believe that just three ingredients—tomatoes, butter and an onion that you don’t even have to chop—could make such a sweet, rich, delightful sauce.

This sauce is far and away my family’s favorite, and I make it with canned tomatoes year-round. It’s most delicious when you can use fresh tomatoes—and with tomatoes ripening on the vine across the country, this is the perfect Meatless Monday to share this classic, adapted from Hazan’s Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. (You can do a little extra exercise tomorrow to make up for all that butter. It’s worth it.)

tomatoes blanching 

Blanch and peel homegrown tomatoes to give this sauce sweet, fresh flavor. 

Tomato Sauce with Butter and Onion
Adapted from Marcela Hazan’s Essentials of Italian Cooking 

Serves 4

2 cups fresh tomatoes or 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes (San Marzano, if you can find them)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium-size white onion, peeled and halved
Salt to taste

1. Blanch and peel tomatoes, if using fresh.

2. Put tomatoes, onion and butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Bring sauce to a simmer, then lower heat to keep the sauce at a slow, steady simmer for about 45 minutes, or until fat floats free of the tomatoes.

3. Stir occasionally, crushing the tomatoes against the side of the pot with a wooden spoon. Remove from heat, discard onion, add salt to taste.

4. Serve over spaghetti, with grated Parmesan if desired.