Adapted from Marcella Hazan's Tomato Sauce with Onion & Butter, this version keeps in the spirit of simplicity. No heavy knife work, not really any extra prep time - Marcella's classic recipe's genius was in its hands off approach - throw it all in a pot and let the magic happen. Here, the time added in browning the pancetta is offset by hand crushing the tomatoes rather than chopping. Feel free to omit the pancetta, but while it's not mandatory, it is a welcome salty punch. —Ericka
Canned Whole San Marzano Tomatoes
Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
Medium Onion, cut in half through root end, skin removed
Clove of Garlic, sliced in half
Fresh Basil, for garnish, optional
Freshly grated Parmesan, for garnish, optional
In This Recipe
Heat a saucepan, dutch oven or braised over medium heat. When warm, add the olive oil and pancetta. Cook pancetta until golden brown.
While the pancetta browns, slice your onion and garlic clove in half and rinse and dry the fresh oregano, leaving the leaves on the sprig.
In a large bowl, crush the canned tomatoes by hand, leaving some texture, and remove any basil leaves.
When the pancetta is brown, add a pinch of crushed red pepper and stir for about one minute. Tip the pan and remove any excess fat with a spoon.
Add crushed tomatoes to the pan, then nestle in the onion, butter, garlic, parmesan rind, oregano sprigs, add a big pinch of salt, and stir. Simmer on low or medium low, uncovered - keeping a steady but low bubble - for about 45 minutes.
Remove the onion, garlic and oregano from the sauce.
Cook pasta (rigatoni works well here) about a minute shy of package directions, reserving about a cup of starchy cooking water.
Drain the pasta and add to the sauce along with about a quarter cup of pasta water - more if needed to make the sauce come together. Let the pasta finish cooking in the sauce, it will absorb the flavor of the sauce into the pasta.
Plate the pasta and garnish with basil and grated parmesan, if desired. A drizzle of good olive oil is good here too.