A companion to Marcella Hazan’s famous Tomato Sauce with Onion and Butter, this sauce is richer and jammier than its celebrity friend, with more complex, layered flavors and only a tiny bit more effort required. I like to dice the onion, carrot, and celery quite fine (it gives you a smoother sauce) but if you prefer a more rustic version feel free to chop them roughly.
This sauce can be used for so many things—to make tomato rice, to serve over shrimp with feta and olives, to flavor a soup, the list is really endless—but it's perfect over pasta. Marcella recommends 1 to 1 1/2 pounds of pasta for the amount of sauce this recipe makes.
Marcella says: This is a denser, darker sauce than Tomato Sauce with Onion and Butter or Tomato Sauce with Olive Oil and Chopped Vegetables, cooked longer over a base of sautéed vegetables. Most factory-made pasta will carry this sauce well, in particular substantial shapes such as rigatoni, ridged penne, or bucatini.
Recipe adapted ever so slightly from Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan. —Sarah Whitman-Salkin
fresh, ripe tomatoes, prepared as described below, or 2 cups Italian plum tomatoes, cut up or whole, with their juice
If using fresh tomatoes: put the prepared tomatoes in an uncovered saucepan and cook at a very low simmer for about 1 hour. Stir from time to time, mashing any pieces of tomato against the sides of the pan with the back of a wooden spoon to break them down. Transfer to a bowl with all their juices. If using canned tomatoes, wipe the saucepan dry with paper towels and proceed with Step 2, then add the tomatoes where indicated in Step 3.
Put in the olive oil and chopped onion in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook onion, stirring often, until it becomes pale gold, then add the carrot and celery. Give everything a few stirs to make sure that the vegetables are well coated in oil and cook at lively heat for another minute.
Add the tomatoes, a large pinch of salt, stir thoroughly, and adjust heat to cook uncovered at a gentle, steady simmer. If using fresh tomatoes, cook for 15 to 20 minutes; if using the canned tomatoes, simmer for 45 minutes. Stir from time to time, occasionally mashing the tomatoes with a wooden spoon to break them down. Before turning off the heat, taste and add more salt if you’d like.