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My new favorite pasta sauce

Marcella Hazan's ironically simple and nontraditional pasta sauce was originally introduced in Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking years ago, and although it was met with wildly mixed reviews (most of which by way of judgements from the unwilling to try), it has now become a staple in my repertoire for those times when I want to take my pasta up a notch.

The original recipe calls for 3 ingredients: tomatoes, butter, and onion. Well, and salt, but one can hardly call that an ingredient. An ingredient is something unique to a dish. Salt goes with EVERY dish (probably)... anyway, I digress. Fine, 4 ingredients.

The simplicity is pure genius. The flavor, elevating. I urge you to try it as originally established, then tweak. Add garlic, wine, thyme, or even garam masala. To be honest, it's a foundational recipe meant to be tailored and evolved to your taste. Further, I recommend finding 3-4 variations that best suit what pasta you plan to enjoy it with or what meat you may add... take it and call it your own. But most importantly, make it your own!

My iteration: Meatless, sweetness, and a bit of cabernet


  • 2 cups tomatoes, in addition to their juices (for example, a 28-ounce can of San Marzano whole peeled tomatoes)

  • 5 tablespoons butter

  • 1 large yellow onion, diced

  • 2 shallots, diced

  • 4 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1/2 cup Cabernet Sauvignon (optional)

  • Salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste

This recipe makes enough sauce for a pound of pasta.


  1. Combine the tomatoes, their juices, butter, onion, shallots, and garlic in a saucepan. Add a pinch or two of salt.

  2. Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Cook, uncovered, for about 45 minutes. Stir occasionally, mashing any large pieces of tomato with a spoon.

  3. Add wine, stir, and continue to cook another 20-30 minutes, until desired consistency.

  4. Add salt and pepper throughout process to allow to permeate tomato and onion chunks, tasting equally as often to ensure balance is achieved by serving time.

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