This stuff is all over the internet.
I’ve been reading about it for a while. I read about it here, and then here, and then I saw it here. It’s like the internet’s version of the food world’s foam. It’s everywhere, on everything, with reckless abandon.
Up until now, I had really never intended to talk about tomato sauce on this site. My experience with the stuff was limited to quick dinners and staff meals at the restaurant where I work. Pasta with red sauce, as it is so vaguely referred to as, tasted, to me, as bland as the name suggested. It was strictly fuel, which is a tragic, tragic way to approach dinner.
Since this sauce quite literally stirred the blog world, it seemed worth a try. Even if it was reminiscent of my pre-work meal, at the very least the name – tomato sauce with onion and butter – was a vast improvement on plain red sauce. Plus, I had all of the ingredients, all three of them. So there was that.
It was, in a word, genius. Which I suppose is not news at all, since people have been reporting just that, just about everywhere for a while now.
With just three ingredients, you wouldn’t really expect much from this sauce. Its simplicity is one of its best attributes, though; the lack of spice, or much of anything else, really allows the tomatoes to sit up and sing. This sauce is canned tomatoes in their absolute best incarnation, all dressed up, the tomato's version of black tie.
The main theory proved, yet again? That butter, in all of its glory, makes everything better. Well, that half of a stick of it makes tomato sauce better. It acts to soften, round out the whole sauce, calming the tomato’s acidity while giving it a bit more depth. The kind of depth hardly worthy of a title like red sauce.
Tomato Sauce with Onion and Butter
Adapted from Every blog, ever.
If you haven’t been making this for years already, you should start now. Marcella Hazan, apparently, really knows her tomatoes. Also, I found that this sauce makes about enough for three servings (or four small ones); I used about ¾ of a pound of pasta.
2 cups whole, peeled, canned plum tomatoes, chopped, with their juices (about one 28-oz. can)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and cut in half
Salt, to taste
Combine the tomatoes, their juices, the butter, and the onion halves in a medium saucepan. Add a pinch or two of salt. Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer.
Cook, uncovered, at a steady simmer over medium low heat for about 45 minutes, or until some of the liquid has reduced and a nice, thickened sauce has started to form. Stir occasionally, mashing any large pieces of tomato with the back of a wooden spoon. Salt as needed, and remove the onion halves, before you serve.