The joys of a simple tomato sauce.

Can use anywhere. On eggs. As a dip. A toasted bagel and cream cheese. Anywhere that might call for a tomato.

The recipe is:

  • 1 can whole tomatoes
  • 1 onion peeled and halved
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • Salt, three finger pinch, a good lug of seasoning to your taste. Maybe a teaspoon, maybe more. I don’t know, buy Kosher salt and get a feel.

Combine three ingredients with your preferred measure of salt into a pot and simmer uncovered for 45 minutes, stirring when you think to. When finished, discard onion halves, stir and enjoy.

Stirring is implied somewhere along the line of cooking. Especially when using whole tomatoes. As the sauce simmers down, I like to break apart the tomatoes. I don’t like larger chunks, so at finish, when the sauce is fully cooked and the onion halves removed, I give it a more vigorous stir with the wooden spoon, pressuring and pushing any larger chunks of tomato against the sides of the pan. The end result is a sauce with lovely texture, the softened and blended tomato collapsing down into a sauce with bright and mellow flavors. Somehow the canned tomatoes taste fresh yet the sauce is velvety and smooth. A wonderful interplay between all aspects of a tomato. Both it’s whole form and it’s juices in one versatile sauce.

Ready for your next meal

Of coarse pizza, of course pasta. This sauce is a natural fit. The beauty of a few simple additions, this sauce can become something else entirely. Craving spaghetti. Sauté a few mushrooms with garlic and butter. Add tomato sauce, maybe some frozen kale to feel healthy. Chill peppers. Black pepper. Little pasta water from the spaghetti you have cooking at this point. Bring sauce to simmer, serve over pasta.

Or maybe you have to have meat with you spaghetti. Fine, take a bit of ground beef, brown in pan, add sauce, serve. Or maybe, anything else you might like with a tomato sauce. Shrimp? I’m sure there is a way. Probably in the pasta water right before pasta is ready. Peel and devein, strain with pasta and serve with sauce, maybe? Depends on the size. Possibly a steamer is better. Also, other factors. Like it’s shrimp, and gross.

The point being the tomato sauce, and it’s wonderful versatility. It stands ready to be a wide variety of meals from breakfast to supper. Don’t discount a good tomato sauce. In a matter of minutes you can make your next meal.

This recipe is new for me. For years I have labored over single purpose sauces. Since I’ve begun cooking, I’ve approached making tomato sauces as making it for one meal. Okay, I’m going to make spaghetti and meatballs, or a chicken cacciatore, or a pizza; all the while missing the essential lesson that it all comes down to the quality of the base sauce. The tomato sauce is always everything in all the sauces I’ve made. Yet I’ve missed the chance to warm a little and spread it on an omelet. I didn’t think it might be good on poached eggs. I forgot about sandwiches and giant hoagies. I let sausages go unattended. Every time I reached for a bottle of ketchup, or smothered a meal in hot sauce, I let an opportunity for tomato goodness slip by.

The sauce is that good.

It’s my first time making it. Thus far I had it as is on clam shell pasta. My first taste. Good. Second with chicken fingers and potato wedges. Added chili peppers and black pepper, again good.

Better than good. Endlessly repeatable. Always interesting.

The sauce comes from Marcella Hazan. She is said to be to Italian cooking as Julia Child was to French. It is said to be the worlds best pasta sauce, a bold claim, but I can see why. It is truly good, marking down all the things you need to make a great tomato sauce, keeping none of the rest. Leaving it open to you to add your own creations. The perfect canvas on which to create. Great parings and combinations of flavors await you. Go forth and cook. I think you might like it.

The source of said recipe.

*Authors note: I wrote the above about a month ago. I have since made it a few more times, expanding it out into a creamy rosé sauce, reducing it down further as the basis for some killer dips and tried a few other things in between. Simply having it over eggs and toast is also a fine pleasure. Can confirm it is versatile beyond just pasta.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *