Simply magical butter and onion pasta sauce

A cool breeze on a hot summer afternoon. A friendly kitty head-butt when after a lousy day at work. The smell of freshly washed sheets as you climb into bed. What do these things all have in common? They’re unexpected pleasures that can magically improve your mood in simple ways.

My mind never before put “simple” and “home made pasta sauce” together, but that was before I tried this unexpectedly wonderful version I found over at Smitten Kitchen. It sat as a bookmark in my browser, blinking like a red dot on my radar for about a year before I got around to trying it. I used to think every homemade pasta sauce took hours to put together, but that has all changed now.

As others who have tried this recipe have written, some real magic happens with this sauce. This sentiment is completely understandable given the tiny number of ingredients and incredibly simple preparation instructions. All you need to do is simmer a big can of whole tomatoes with some butter and onion for forty-five minutes, remove the onion at the end, then mash everything into a sauce. The bright fresh flavors will have you thinking this is some David Copperfield-type stuff for sure.

Simply Magical Butter and Onion Pasta Sauce, a la Smitten Kitchen

serves 4

  • 28 ounces whole peeled tomatoes from a can (San Marzanos are preferred)
  • 5 Tbs unsalted butter
  • 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and halved
  • salt to taste

Empty the tomatoes and their juice into a sauce pot, along with the butter and halved onion, then bring to a simmer. Cover and adjust heat to maintain a steady simmer for 45 minutes, or until fat droplets from the butter freely float to the surface.

Remove the onion and crush the tomatoes against the side of the pot with a spoon or blend using a stick blender.

Adjust seasoning with salt, but most canned tomatoes come pre-salted so you may not need this ingredient.

Do a card trick, saw your assistant in half, then serve the sauce over your favorite pasta.

2 comments posted

  1. Posted by todd - 07/18/2011

    Yes, the simpler the better. My long-time favorite is from a red clam sauce recipe I got out of an old Betty Crocker cookbook, only I like it sans clams–olive oil, finely chopped garlic, canned, whole tomatoes, and salt to taste. If it’s just me, I sprinkle in some red pepper flakes. It’s so easy and totally killer.

  2. Posted by Tracey - 07/19/2011

    Easily my favorite tomato sauce. It’s simple and clean. My picky man loves this above all other sauces and that’s saying quite a bit!

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