The Best Tomato Sauce

Hazan tomato sauce recipe

This recipe is an instant hit in the Chook House. It`s super easy, cheap, nutritious and, for the first time in a long time, I heard the Teens yell for more.

And I would never have discovered it were it not for the passing of Marcella Hazan.

Have to confess, I never heard of the woman before. But I was very taken by a post on Campari and Sofa in praise of this much loved cook. And bemoaning her demise.

Coincidentally, two days later, I happened upon her obituary in The Irish Times.  A newly arrived bride in the America of the 1950s, the article told of Hazan`s culture shock as she tried to adapt to the American way of eating and indeed to, Italian cucina in America, which she wasn`t too thrilled with, either.

Hazan  “abhorred the overuse of garlic in Italian food served in the US and would not suffer fools afraid of salt or the effort involved in finding the right ingredients” and
her tomato sauce, enriched with only an onion, butter and salt, embodies her approach

Ah! that tomato sauce… yes, indeed Campari and Sofa had featured it too and kindly posted the recipe.  Tomato sauce with just tomatoes, butter, onion and seasoning? Simple. And easy. And quick. I simply had to try it. And here it is…

Marcella Hazan`s Tomato Sauce

  • 2 lbs fresh, ripe tomatoes,2 cups canned imported Italian tomatoes, cut up, with their juice
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and cut in half
  • Salt to taste
  • Plunge the fresh tomatoes into boiling water and then cold water so that you can remove their skins easily. Put either the prepared fresh tomatoes or the canned 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.

I`ve no idea if Hazan would have approved, but I froze my sauce into a couple of portions, just to have something really quick and handy to toss into pasta for a quick mid week dinner.

That dinner happened today. Spaghetti tossed in the sauce and garnished with plenty of chopped parsley (sorry, I`m all out of basil right now) and grated Parmesan cheese.

It was blissfully simple and delicious. So much so, that the only sound during dinner time today was that of eager slurping. It`s been a long time since I`ve seen anything so eagerly devoured. And of course there were cries of Encore! Encore! when the Teens were done.

That`s likely to be as close to “Ben Fatto, Mamma” as I`ll ever get. But empty plates and cries for More! is enough for me.

Marcella Hazan you must have lived a wonderful life pleasing so many with your wonderful food. May you rest in peace.


12 thoughts on “The Best Tomato Sauce

    • Maybe they’ll be fine though. I`m definitely using canned tomatoes next time. I find plum more flavoursome than ordinary ones. But I`ll be interested to see how it compares with fresh tomatoes.

    • Yes, I thought it unusual that Hazan used butter over olive oil but then she didn`t favour garlic either, so maybe it`s just a regional style of cooking in her part of Italy, I don`t know. But the sauce is fab. Like the sound of yours too though!

      • If she came from the North of Italy, she probably grew up using butter. My OH’s granny is from the north of France so she uses butter instead of the oil that everybody uses here. It’s to do with the heat and butter not going rancid.

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