Monday, July 29, 2013

Tomato Sauce with Onion and Butter

Right around this time every year, it seems that the markets explode with color, turning into a veritable sea of bright, perfectly ripe heirloom tomatoes of seemingly every shape and variety known to man. It's one of my most favorite things about summer. Tomatoes at the market, tomatoes on restaurant menus, and most importantly, tomatoes in my kitchen. Bowls and basketfuls of them, because I can't ever resist picking up just one more. So many of them, in fact, that I often have to give them away in a reluctant act of forced generosity because they're too many for one or two people to consume in a reasonable amount of time. Either that, or make reserves of sweet tomato sauce to stick in the freezer for a rainy day (or a snowy one in the middle of winter when the doldrums have start to set in).

For that, Marcella Hazan's famous recipe for tomato sauce with onion and butter is pretty near impossible to beat. I made it for the first time in our little kitchen in Zurich and it produced a sauce that was so delicious, it didn't even need any of the freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese that is usually a nonnegotiable for me when indulging in pasta. Just a quick sprinkling of torn, sun-warmed basil, and you're good to go. xo

Tomato Sauce with Onion and Butter
2 lbs. fresh ripe tomatoes
5 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, peeled and cut in half
Sea salt, to taste

Plunge the tomatoes in boiling water for a minute or less. Drain them. As soon as they are cool enough to handle, skin them, and cut them up into coarse pieces. (I skipped this step, as I was REALLY eager to get my sauce on a plate for lunch, but hopefully you'll have more patience.)

Put the skinned tomatoes in a saucepan, add the butter, onion, and salt, and cook, uncovered at a very slow, but steady simmer for about 45 minutes, or until it is thickened to your liking and the fat floats free from the tomato.

Stir from time to time, mashing up any large pieces of tomato with the back of a wooden spoon.

Taste and correct for salt. Discard the onion before tossing with pasta.


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  2. So you must be living there now? Will you be going back to New York or is this permanent?

  3. I love this recipe. Homemade tomato sauce is so much better than from the jar. My friend and I started a blog about living alone and it's so hard to cook for just one person. Do you ever do just one serving recipes?

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