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The Easiest Tomato Sauce That Won Hearts, Changed Lives

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As Food52 gets older (and wiser), and our archive of recipes grows, we’re making the effort to revisit some gold recipes. Today, we're highlighting the internet's most famous tomato sauce with our brand new video.


Marcella Hazan's Tomato Sauce could be the reason Genius recipes even exist.

“Genius recipes surprise us and make us rethink cooking tropes. They're handed down by luminaries of the food world and become their legacy. It was only a matter of time,” Kristen Miglore said back in 2011. “The sauce was always there, seeping into every discussion of this whole genius recipe premise.”

And why wouldn’t it be? The ingenuity lies in its simplicity: tomatoes, butter, and onion. No garlic or herbs, no pepper or carrots. Just simple tomatoes shining as the truest versions of themselves.

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You don’t even need fresh tomatoes—though we certainly hope you can get your hands on some this summer! Hazan’s recipe is perfectly suited for a 28-ounce can of San Marzano or whatever canned tomatoes you prefer. Either way, those juicy fruits simmer in a bath of butter complete with an aromatic onion bath bomb. Once the fat floats away from the tomatoes, stir it right back in there and get ready to serve over your favorite pasta. Or pizza. Or eggplant. Or fish. Or eggs. (We really can keep going…)

So what are you waiting for? Grab a can and start simmering.

Marcella Hazan's Tomato Sauce with Onion and Butter

Marcella Hazan's Tomato Sauce with Onion and Butter

Genius Recipes Genius Recipes
Serves 6, enough to sauce 1 to 1 1/2 pounds pasta

For the Sauce

  • 2 pounds fresh, ripe tomatoes, prepared as described below, or 2 cups canned imported Italian tomatoes, cut up, with their juice
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and cut in half
  • Salt to taste

Making Fresh Tomatoes Ready for Sauce

  • fresh, ripe plum tomatoes (or other varieties, if they are equally ripe and truly fruity, not watery)
Go to Recipe

Do you remember the first time you made the sauce? Join us down memory lane in the comments below!

Automagic Spring Menu Maker!
Automagic Spring Menu Maker!

Tags: Tomato