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Tomato Sauce with Onion and Butter Recipe-2761

Photo by: Joseph De Leo
Comments: 2


This is the simplest of all sauces to make, and none has a purer, more irresistibly sweet tomato taste. I have known people to skip the pasta and eat the sauce directly out of the pot with a spoon.

Yield: For 6 servings


  • 2 pounds fresh, ripe tomatoes, prepared as described below, OR 2 cups canned imported Italian plum tomatoes, cut up, with their juice
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and cut in half
  • Salt
  • 1 to 1½ pounds pasta
  • Freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese for the table


Put either the prepared fresh tomatoes or the canned in a saucepan, add the butter, onion, and salt, and cook uncovered at a very slow, but steady simmer for 45 minutes, or until the fat floats free from the tomato. Stir from time to time, mashing any large piece of tomato in the pan with the back of a wooden spoon. Taste and correct for salt. Discard the onion before tossing the sauce with pasta.


Recommended pasta: This is an unsurpassed sauce for potato gnocchi, but it is also delicious with factory-made pasta in such shapes as spaghetti, penne, or rigatoni. Serve with grated Parmesan.May be frozen when done. Discard the onion before freezing.

Making Fresh Tomatoes Ready for Sauce: Unless the recipe indicates otherwise, fresh, ripe tomatoes must be prepared to use for sauce following one of the two methods given below. The blanching method can lead to a meatier, more rustic consistency. The food mill method produces a silkier, smoother sauce.

The Blanching Method: Plunge the tomatoes in boiling water for a minute or less. Drain them and, as soon as they are cool enough to handle, skin them, and cut them up in coarse pieces.

The Food Mill Method: Wash the tomatoes in cold water, cut them lengthwise in half, and put them in a covered saucepan. Turn on the heat to medium and cook for 10 minutes. Set a food mill fitted with the disk with the largest holes over a bowl. Transfer the tomatoes with any of their juices to the mill and puree.

© 1992 Marcella Hazan

Nutritional Information

Nutrients per serving (% daily value)

Nutritional information is based on 1/8 teaspoon added salt per serving and 1 lb of pasta, and does not include Parmesan Cheese for serving at the table.

401kcal (20%)
224mg (9%)
11g (17%)
6g (32%)
25mg (8%)
144mcg RAE (5%)
20mg (34%)
38mg (4%)
3mg (16%)

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  • gmp62

    08.07.10 Flag comment

    This sauce was delicious and very easy to prepare. The butter gives the sauce a lovely richness, too. This recipe is definitely being added to my favorite recipe rotation!

  • julieannem

    06.15.10 Flag comment

    This is the most delicious tomato sauce and so easy to make.


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