bandwagon tomato sauce

March 14, 2010 at 6:14 pm 13 comments

If you give me a choice between tomato sauce or cream sauce, nine times out of ten I’m going to choose the cream sauce. It’s rich, flavorful, and usually involves cheese. Well, I’m here to tell you that this tomato sauce hits two of the three points. AND! It only has three ingredients.

Food blog readers have probably seen this recipe on at least four other blogs by now, but on the off chance you haven’t yet come across it, I’d like to be responsible for your tomato-y happiness.

Your mind is – no doubt – racing, trying to guess the three ingredients that could comprise such an amazing tomato sauce. “It’s probably some expensive truffle oil nonsense,” right? Nope! Are you ready?

It’s a can of tomatoes. An onion. And butter.

It’s really that simple. And if you opt for non-San Marzano tomatoes (I went whole hog, baby), it’s really that inexpensive. I’m telling you, it is delicious. Consider me a tomato sauce convert. I’ve tried it with whole wheat pasta and regular pasta, and I’d recommend the regular for this. I found that the whole wheat pasta competed a little too much with the flavors of the sauce. And I promise you, you’ll want nothing competing with the flavors of this sauce.

I’ve heard the blogging world raving about it, so now I’m curious to know what all of you think. If you try it, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Tomato Sauce with Butter and Onions

Adapted from Marcela Hazan’s Essentials of Italian Cooking

  • 28 oz can of whole tomatoes, undrained (I used San-Marzano based on a recommendation, but any would work, as would 3-4 cups of fresh plum tomatoes)
  • 5 tablespoons butter, unsalted
  • 1 onion, peeled and halved
  • Salt to taste (I didn’t need any, I think my tomatoes must have been pre-salted)

Put the tomatoes, butter and onion in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, then lower heat so you get a steady, slow simmer, and cook uncovered for 45 minutes. Stir occasionally, mashing the tomatoes against the sides of the pan using the back of your spoon (this gets easier later in the game). Discard the onion* and serve with cooked pasta (and parmesan cheese, if you’re feeling wild).

*It broke my heart thinking about throwing away an onion that had been cooked for 45 minutes with butter and tomatoes, so! I saved it. And it’s going in tonight’s dinner.


Entry filed under: Kept to myself. Tags: , , , , .

microwave lemon curd experimentation goes beyond food

13 Comments Add your own

  • 1. annette  |  March 14, 2010 at 10:44 pm

    where’d you get that pan? and what dinner did the saved onion go in? I think I will have to try this sauce but I think I need to buy some frozen ravioli first. and some tomatoes in a can. and a smaller onion.

  • 2. erin  |  March 15, 2010 at 12:06 pm

    That’s the pan you gave me for Christmas! I used the onion in taco lasagna last night. Not my best, I think my tortillas were a bit on the stale side (oops), and it’s really better with beef (I used ground turkey).

  • 3. annette  |  March 15, 2010 at 6:27 pm

    sometimes I wonder if adding a bit of beef granules or base to stuff that wants beef but is healthier with turkey would make it taste less like you’re settling. I haven’t ever tried it to see. that pan looks bigger in my remembery than it does on your stove!

  • 4. annette  |  March 15, 2010 at 6:32 pm

    I wonder what leftover enchurrito sauce would do for taco lasagna..

  • 5. AJ  |  March 16, 2010 at 10:28 pm

    I’ve seen a recipe similar to this in Food and Wine. One of the early 2009 issues. The butter is what makes this sauce, IMO. Now I want to make this — maybe sometime this week.

    Nice blog, Erin.

  • 6. April  |  March 17, 2010 at 6:55 am

    I made this before and it didn’t make me go OMG like I expected. Maybe it was using plain old Southern Home brand tomatoes?

  • 7. erin  |  March 17, 2010 at 7:12 am

    @AJ, it could very well have been the same sauce. It’s been around the block a few times, so to speak. And I agree about the butter!

    @April, I’ve heard that San Marzano tomatoes are supposed to be the be-all and end-all of canned tomatoes, but they are in fact still canned tomatoes, so I’m not sure how much difference they could make. I’ll try regular old canned tomatoes next time, and let you know if it tastes the same. The original recipe, I believe, calls for fresh tomatoes, which would probably be even better once they’re in season.

  • 8. aidan  |  March 25, 2010 at 10:46 am

    Nothing quite screams “Wild & Crazy” like parmesan cheese! That said, I will try this BUT–
    This sounds like it’ll be a pretty bland tomato sauce, how can it be as good as you say?

    • 9. Mary Sue  |  March 26, 2010 at 1:35 pm

      felt like I had to post a comment to break the chain of comments by people whose first name begins with A. Don’t really have anything to add, except that I think it’s pretty brazen of Aiden to doubt his big sister’s word that this is a terrific sauce. I mean, she’s his big sister! and also a food blogger! Those are pretty big credentials, mister!

  • 10. AJ  |  March 26, 2010 at 4:25 pm

    Aidan, I’m pretty sure it’d be amazing with fresh sauce tomatoes. Since I’d have to wait till September or so for that, I instead opted for canned tomatoes, and opted to throw in a diced jalapeño and a little bit of thyme. It wasn’t nothing amazing, but it wasn’t bland.

    Also, Erin, I gave you a shout-out in my little Tumblr.

    • 11. erin  |  March 26, 2010 at 4:51 pm

      @aidan, listen to your aunt.

      @Mary Sue, good to see you 🙂

      @AJ, jalapeño and thyme? You’ve turned the sauce into an Italian fusion dish. Thanks for the shout-out!

  • 12. annette  |  March 28, 2010 at 6:28 pm

    I have it cooking on the stove tonight but I chopped the onion and am leaving it in. I like onion. and I’m mashing it with my potato masher instead of a spoon on the side, because I’m old and impatient.

  • 13. Alfred  |  April 6, 2010 at 7:13 pm

    As another A named person, I must post to offset Mary Sue’s post 🙂

    I also must reply that this is a pretty darn tasty sauce 😛 I only say this because I dislike tomato sauces in general, and I really like this..


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