When my friend’s mum was sick I made some food for her family. As they are vegetarian and I tend to cook with meat, I turned to my trusty cookbook collection for some inspiration.
And in Marcella Hazan’s The Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking I found THE BEST TOMATO SAUCE IN THE WORLD.
Here is how Marcella describes it,
‘This is the simplest of all sauces to make, and none has a purer, more irresistibly tomato taste. I have known people to skip the pasta and eat the sauce directly out of the pot with a spoon.’
It truly is delicious, and I cook it all the time now. It requires opening 1 tin, cutting an onion in half and adding some butter and salt, then cooking slowly. I find that if I put the sauce on first thing, by the time the pasta water has boiled and the pasta has cooked, the sauce is ready too. Easy.
And the great thing about Marcella is that she tells you exactly which pasta the sauce goes with. So it’s ‘unsurpassed’ for gnocchi, but also great with spaghetti, penne and rigatoni.
I took a photo last night as I made it on the old stove that came with my house (this is the second hand element to my post today – pretty lame I know, but it’s a GREAT recipe so you’ll have to forgive me).
TOMATO SAUCE WITH ONION AND BUTTER (serves 6)
500g of tinned imported italian plum tomatoes, cut up with their juice
1 medium onion, peeled and cut in half
freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese for the table.
Put the tomatoes into a saucepan, add butter, onion and salt and cook uncovered at a very slow but steady simmer for 45 minutes, or until the fat floats free from the tomatoes. Stir from time to time, mashing any large piece of tomato in the pan with the back of a wooden spoon. Taste and correct for salt. Discard the onion before tossing the sauce with pasta.
Note: you can make it with 900g fresh tomatoes, but Marcella recommends blanching them first by plunging them in boiling water for a minute, draining them, then peeling them before coarsely chopping them.