I will admit to popping open a jar of store bought spaghetti sauce on occasion. Boil some pasta and dinner is ready in minutes. However, I crave the slow cooked, deep rich flavor of homemade tomato sauce. Is there any compromise?
I think so. I came across this tomato sauce over on the blog Smitten Kitchen. If you have never looked at or explored this amazing blog, please do so. According to the Smitten Kitchen post, many in the blog world and beyond have jumped on this easy recipe. It is adapted from an older Marcela Hazan recipe. I made this a few weekends ago and have been excited to share my thoughts ever since.
Tomato Sauce with Butter and Onions
Adapted from Marcela Hazan’s Essentials of Italian Cooking as posted on Smitten Kitchen (Snickie adaptations in bold)
Serves 4 as a main course; makes enough sauce to lightly coat most of a pound of spaghetti
28 ounces (800 grams) whole peeled tomatoes from a can (San Marzano, if you can find them)* – I used whole canned plum tomatoes from Trader Joe’s
5 tablespoons (70 grams) unsalted butter – I used 3 T
1 medium-sized yellow onion, peeled and halved
Salt to taste
Put the tomatoes, onion and butter in a heavy saucepan (it fit just right in a 3-quart) over medium heat. Bring the sauce to a simmer then lower the heat to keep the sauce at a slow, steady simmer for about 45 minutes, or until droplets of fat float free of the tomatoes. Stir occasionally, crushing the tomatoes against the side of the pot with a wooden spoon. Remove from heat, discard the onion, add salt to taste (you might find, as I did, that your tomatoes came salted and that you didn’t need to add more) and keep warm while you prepare your pasta.
Serve with spaghetti, with or without grated parmesan cheese to pass.
Verdict: YUM. To note, this did have a strong sweet onion taste – not a raw onion taste but the onion was definitely present. Also, I wasn’t sure about cutting down the butter. However, I could most certainly still detect and taste the rich, deep creaminess the butter brought to the dish. I am not sure I would want any more butter than what I used.
Overall, this sauce is sweet, thick and full of flavor. I think it would be lovely to serve to company. It truly has that special, ‘secret recipe’ taste to it. It is pleasantly rich and comforting. I served my sauce over penne and stretched my pot into a few dinners and lunches. I don’t think I would add meat to this – it is already rich from the butter. However, I think you could add some veggies as a variation. No matter what, this sauce is keeper for sure. Minimal effort and awesome outcome – my kind of meal.