Incredible Tomato Sauce With Just Three Ingredients!

I’m back, at least for today!  I wrote the following post the day after my last post at the end of January, but somehow never got around to publishing it.  Indeed, I have a handful of posts that are languishing on disk.  Such is life; mine is full of twists and turns.  Enjoy this sauce– so easy, yet so tasty!

Over the holidays, Grace told me that Marcella Hazan’s three ingredient tomato sauce was trending high in NYC.  Marcella Hazan’s cookbook, “Essentials of Italian Cooking,” has been out for over 20 years, so I thought it was funny that this simple sauce has become the new home cook’s delight.  I originally planned to make stuffed cabbage rolls (see here for recipe), but forgot to buy the sauerkraut, duh!

So I decided I’d make my meatballs, one of Grace’s favorites, and make this sauce instead of my go-to Paul Newman’s.  There are really just THREE ingredients:  canned (or fresh if it’s summer) tomatoes, butter and an onion.  In her book, Hazan says that she’s known people who skip the pasta and just eat the sauce out of the pot!

I was wondering how these three ingredients would make such a fantastic sauce, and then I read the recipe.  For two cups of tomatoes, the recipe calls for FIVE tablespoons of butter.  You don’t even chop the onion– you peel it, cut it in half and simmer all three ingredients on very low heat.

I was skeptical to say the least, but let me tell you, that after simmering that sauce, it was amazing!  I plopped my meatballs in the sauce and served it over a bed of linguine.  The three adults loved it, but Ken with his braces said he couldn’t deal with the bits of tomato, but the flavor was great.  I may try running the tomatoes through a food mill next time…or maybe Ken can just suffer!

NOTE:  If you use canned tomatoes, please pay a little extra for the imported San Marzano ones.  I don’t think the sauce will be as flavorful with generic canned tomatoes.  Also, I scaled up the original recipe because all I had was a 28 oz can of San Marzanos.

Three Ingredient Tomato Sauce (adapted from Marcella Hazan’s “Essentials of Italian Cooking”)

  • 1 28-oz can of imported Italian San Marzano tomatoes
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter (yes, a quarter pound)
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and cut in half through root
  • salt to taste

What can I say– not much to pull out of the pantry and fridge:

For those of you who care, a 28--oz can of whole San Marzano tomatoes is 3 cups...

For those of you who care, a 28–oz can of whole San Marzano tomatoes is 3 cups…

I poured the tomatoes, undrained, into my pan and crushed them with a potato masher.  (I really do not like crushing them with my bare hands– yuck).

I used a wide, shallow pan to help with evaporation.

I used a wide, shallow pan to help with evaporation.

I peeled and cut the onion, then added the two halves and the stick of butter to the tomatoes.  I sprinkled on some salt, but not too much as I knew the tomatoes were going to reduce.

I looked at this pan and was VERY concerned.

I looked at this pan and was VERY concerned.

The butter will begin to melt before the sauce begins to simmer; I just stirred the sauce every now and then.

Don't worry about thoroughly blending the butter into the sauce

Don’t worry about thoroughly blending the butter into the sauce

The key to cooking this sauce is to maintain a low, but constant simmer.  The way I do this is to bring the sauce to a gentle simmer, then slowly lower the heat.  I never bring tomatoes to a boil; something about their viscosity always results in big plopping tomato juice bubbles all over my stove.

I was a little worried that the onion halves would not break down only  partially submerged, but they did

I was a little worried that the onion halves would not break down only partially submerged, but they did

I walked away and let this simmer, checking once or twice to adjust the temperature as the sauce reduced.  After 45 minutes, the onion was completely softened and the sauce quite thick.

After I tasted this, I understood why people eat it out of the pan!

After I tasted this, I understood why people eat it out of the pan!

Taste for seasoning, pull out the onions and serve with your favorite pasta.  Here’s what I did with mine:

Ahhh

Ahhh

Afterthoughts:  As fantastic as this sauce tastes with linguine and meatballs, Kurt suggested I make it with gnocchi.  A future post, perhaps.

FYI Grace! – Remember you recently asked me what sauce I used and I said “Newman’s.”  I had forgotten I had made the Marcella sauce with them in January!

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2 Comments

Filed under Food, Main Dishes

2 responses to “Incredible Tomato Sauce With Just Three Ingredients!

  1. gracepark1993@gmail.com

    About friggin time!
    Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

  2. grace

    The only problem with this recipe is that it makes too little! With Maria’s meatballs, this recipe is heaven…I make it monthly. Glad to see the cougar is back!!!

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