As simple as it is though, I've struggled to make a sauce that is anywhere as good as those I had in Tuscany. The closest I've come is in the summer when I'd find a fresh bushel of San Marzano tomatoes but it still seemed to lack something. So I was particularly intrigued when I started to read about "Marcela Hazan's tree ingredient tomato sauce" that "rivals sauces in Italy". When I saw that even Deb Perelman was waxing poetic over it, I knew I had to give it a try. It could not be more simple: 1 can of quality whole tomatoes, 5 tablespoons of butter and 1 white onion, halved. Yup, that's it. You put the ingredients in a pot and let them simmer for 45 minutes. You're probably making a face like "no way...". That is also the face I made. But you guys, it is DIVINE. In fact, it is as close to taste and texture of the sauces I had in Italy! The onion perfumes and sweetens the entire dish whilst the butter thickens and enriches the tomato juices. I added some fresh basil leaves at the very end but honestly, you don't need it. The superstar here is the tomato, as it should be.
Marcella Hazan's Tomato Sauce
(From Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking)
28-oz. can whole, peeled, canned plum tomatoes, chopped, with their juices
5 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and cut in half
Salt, to taste
Fresh basil leaves, optional
1. Add the tomatoes, their juices, the butter, and the onion halves to a medium saucepan. Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer.
2. Cook, uncovered, at a very slow simmer for about 45 minutes. Stir occasionally, mashing any large pieces of tomato with the back of a wooden spoon.
3. Add basil about 5 minutes before serving. Taste and salt as needed.
4. Discard the onion before tossing the sauce with pasta.