THE VERY VERY BEST TOMATO SAUCE . . . and just three ingredients – thank you Marcella Hazan

Early morning. I’ve walked out to the garden to harvest tomatoes. My farmer neighbour is cutting hay in the field near by. The swaths lay in military straight rows. The air is filled with the perfume of the freshly cut hay. The sun catching diamonds of dew suspended in delicate cobwebs in grass around the garden.

Like glowing rubies tomatoes hang suspended from vines. A tomato house protects them from low night river fog that growls and prowls our gardens and blight the tomatoes. It’s not an elegant structure. A wooden frame and heavy plastic curtains open for sun then close at night. It gives an extra month or so of growing time and generously increases our crop of tomatoes.

I’ve picked a heavy basket of tomatoes; irresistibly sweet, juicy, rich and bursting with flavours. Tomatoes you eat over the sink, sprinkled with a little Malden salt. Juice running down your arms and a beatific smile on your face. Now is the time to practice tomato alchemy and turn these tomatoes into sauce.

Start this sauce by melting butter and onions.

Then add your chopped tomatoes.
Simmer the sauce crushing the tomatoes (not the onions).

To me this recipe is the simplest, most elegant and finest of all sauces. Chopped tomatoes, butter, onion and salt. Five minutes preparation time. Forty-five minutes cooking time and the occasional stir. Serve it over linguine generously anointed with parmigiana cheese. Toss it with gnocchi. Or simply stand at the stove and eat a spoonful or too. After all, one simply must taste to check salt seasoning.

The recipe is from Marcella Hazan’s book Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking (1992). A much used, food spattered, absolutely adored book. I share the recipe in my kitchen MRS.BUTTERFINGERS.

Dear friends, “bel cibo”.


6 thoughts on “THE VERY VERY BEST TOMATO SAUCE . . . and just three ingredients – thank you Marcella Hazan

  1. Virginia, your prose is beautiful as always, drawing beautiful pictures in my mind. The sauce photos and recipe would be quite appealing if we weren’t in southern California right now putting up with hotter than usual temps and the humidity that goes with them and that, after 2 1/2 years in Arizona, we’re no longer used to. 🙂 I’ll save it for our fall–probably about November. 🙂


    • Janet, my friend, we have been watching your weather. Unbearable heat. Here it has been the hottest summer on record for the province. Almost no one has air-conditionin. The last two days Vancouver has experienced the worst air quality of any city in the world. I hope the fall brings us some sanity. I am actually longing for the rain for winter. Keep cool thoughts and think of the wonderful pasta dish that awaits you. Cheers Virginia

    • Gayle, you are going to love me AND Marcelle Hazen for this recipe. It’s an easy make. Something you will appreciate while working on your landscaping and enjoying your new Home. XXX Virginia

    • Cornelia, those are the very best tomatoes. If one can’t grown their own organic is the way to go. When that is not possible San Marzano canned peeled tomatoes is the way to go. Bon Appetit XXX Virginia

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