Like magic, this lip-smacking sauce requires just four ingredients and hardly any work at all.
It's hard now to imagine a time when Italian food was not the norm in just about every kitchen in the United States. Thankfully, the goddess of Italian cooking, Marcella Hazan, changed that in the 1970s when she started giving cooking lessons in her New York City apartment and publishing recipes in the New York Times. Her first cookbook, "The Classic Italian Cook Book: The Art of Italian Cooking and the Italian Art of Eating" published in 1973 pretty much changed the way much of America eats.
There is so much to learn from Hazan's approach to cooking and eating. She favored handmade food using local seasonal ingredients – and hipsters think they invented everything? But one of the true beauties of her cuisine is its simplicity. And perhaps nowhere is that simplicity more evident than in her four-ingredient tomato sauce. While one of my favorite tomato sauces ever is Scott Conant's miraculous tomato and basil sauce from Scarpetta, his recipe is a bit complicated with its 16 ingredients and 15 steps. Hazan's, on the other hand, is just one of those magical recipes in which the sum is magnificently greater than its few simple parts.
It goes like this: Pour a can of tomatoes in a pot, add a halved onion, add butter and salt, simmer for 45 minutes. How this can end up tasting so good I have no idea. (OK, maybe the butter has something to do with it, but still...)
The sauce1 28-ounce can peeled tomatoes (and their juice)
1 white onion, peeled and cut in half
5 tablespoons butter
Salt to taste
And literally, just put them in a pot and let it simmer, uncovered, for 45 minutes. Stir occasionally and mash tomatoes that don't break up on their own. This makes four servings.
My notes• I like San Marzano tomatoes; look for BPA-free cans or use jarred tomatoes.
• Some people remove the onion, I don't – it's delicious. I take it out, chop it up, and then return it.
• To coat the pasta nicely, remove it from the boiling water just before it's done and add it to the tomato sauce with a little bit of the pasta water to finish cooking.