Marcella Hazan’s 3 Ingredient Tomato Sauce

If you’ve ever looked at a food blog, chances are you’ve come across this tomato sauce recipe. Maybe, like me, you’ve thought it was another Internet hoax—how could you possibly have an edible tomato sauce with only 3 ingredients? And how could it possibly be the one of the top “10 most popular of all time” on Food 52? With a pile of plum tomatoes I thought it was time to test it out. Makes enough sauce for a pound of pasta:

Marcella Hazan’s 3 Ingredient Tomato 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

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 about 45 minutes, or until it is thickened to your liking.

Stir from time to time, mashing up any large pieces of tomato with the back of a wooden spoon.

Taste and correct for salt. Serve with your favorite pasta and enjoy!

To prep fresh tomatoes for the sauce:

With a sharp knife cut an X on the bottom of the tomatoes. Plunge them 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 into coarse pieces (this also works really well for peeling peaches too).

My verdict:

Butter makes everything better. This is a good but not life-changing tomato sauce. I left the onion in, but according to the Internet, it’s supposed to be removed. I thought it would be better with fresh tomatoes and I had them, but it’s probably more work (blanching and peeling) than opening a can and I’m not sure the end result was any better. I would make it again, just to see what it was like with some good canned tomatoes. Have you made this? What did you think?





4 thoughts on “Marcella Hazan’s 3 Ingredient Tomato Sauce”

  1. Coincidentally, I made this last night! I used a James Beard recipe that calls for 2.5 lbs. fresh tomatoes, 4T butter, a medium onion and some basil. Chunky and with a very fresh taste. An old favorite.

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