I’m definitely one for healthy eating, as long as you can lure me away from the cheese board. My main tactic to avoid the tictac is to fill up on vegetables, and failing that, add in a bit of cheese.
This recipe is a vegetable trick that fits into my philosophy of cooking quick, cooking batches and cooking well. It works well as a pasta, or vegetable noodle sauce, as well as a condiment/sauce and it takes only 2 or 3 minutes to throw into a saucepan, and then 35-40 minutes of simmer to produce a truly silky, flavoursome sauce.
The traditional recipe from writer and cook Marcella Hazan calls for fresh tomatoes, white onion and butter. I’ve yet to experiment with vegan options, but I have swapped fresh tomatoes for good quality tinned already with great results.
Ingredients for a reasonable sized batch:
- 3 or 4 tins of peeled plum tomatoes.
- 1 large white onion, peeled and sliced into quarters or 8ths
- large knob of butter (be generous – 50 grams or more will give better results)
- salt and pepper to taste (I add a little black pepper at the beginning of the cooking process and then season to taste at the end)
I use an ordinary stainless steel saucepan (non stick and certain metals may not respond well to the acids in fruit so I tend to avoid them when cooking jams and these kinds of sauces). Throw all ingredients in your saucepan including a little black pepper – but save the main seasoning of salt and pepper till the end . Bring the pan to a vigorous simmer and then lower heat to a gentle simmer with a lid on whilst you get on with other things.
Stir from time to time to avoid any sticking and to keep an eye on the amount of heat needed. You want the sweetness of the onion to have time to seep into the tomatoes. You also want the tomatoes to reduce and intensify in flavour. Take your time.
When it is ready the onion will be quite translucent, and the tomato will have visibly reduced. The sauce will have a rich flavour, and whilst the original recipe suggests discarding the onion I think it is one of the best parts!
This classic recipe is based on the cookery writer Marcella Hazan’s recipe, which I tinker with every time I use it! The sign of a great tomato sauce is that it could be eaten with pasta on its own – I have and do – and sometimes just out of the pot. The sauce stores well in the fridge, but again think about storing in glass containers as plastic will discolour.