Buttered

Right now, the freezer drawers are full of gallon bags, stuffed with tomatoes. And the tomato plants outside are still full of tomatoes – most of them still green, but some of them that probably should have been harvested earlier this week, except that there were too many awkwardly placed spider webs and neither of us felt like trying to dislodge them while they were currently occupied by extremely large garden spiders, nor did we have any idea quite where to put any more tomatoes if we picked them in the first place. I have made red wine marinara sauce, and garden vegetable salsa, and still there are so very many tomatoes left to deal with, and I am running low on clean pint jars into which to put them after processing. Plus we still have plain tomato sauce left – at least a dozen pints of it – from *last* summer. All of which brings me to tonight’s decision to do Something With Tomatoes for dinner, except that I didn’t want to have to go to the grocery store and I didn’t want to have to thaw any of the whole tomatoes, and I didn’t want to have to do anything more than toss something into a pot and then walk away and immerse myself into a book until dinner magically finished all on its own. Or in other words, all of this is just a long-winded explanation of why tonight, I finally tried Marcella Hazen’s Tomato Sauce with Onion and Butter.

I have seen a number of people gushing about this recipe on various food blogs, so I admit I was a bit skeptical about it at first, because I am used to my pasta sauce being full of herbs and chunks of vegetables; the sort of thing that takes a whole bunch of ingredients and a whole lot of time to put together. But there is a reason why people have been gushing about this sauce. It really is just as fabulous as everyone says. It only takes three ingredients, and best of all, even though it takes 45 minutes, it is exactly the sort of recipe where you can just throw everything into a pot and turn on the heat and then walk away.

Here is how you make this sauce (at least my version of it). Chop up one large onion and toss it into a big pot with about 5 tablespoons of butter. Pour in two pint jars of home-canned plain tomato sauce. Simmer over medium heat for about 45 minutes, or until sauce is thickened and the onions are translucent. About fifteen minutes before the sauce is done, start some water boiling for pasta, and if you time it just right, you should be draining your noodles just about the time your sauce is ready to go. If you are like me and only ever use unsalted butter, and tend to can your tomato sauce with no seasoning at all, you’ll probably want to add a few dashes of salt at the very end, but otherwise, resist the urge to doctor it up in any other way.

For such a simple recipe I have to admit, I was really surprised by how delicious it turned out. The onion imparts a lot of flavor into the tomato base, and the butter adds an element of complexity to the flavors. I am always happy when something so simple turns out so well – especially when it’s the sort of thing that makes use of something I’ve got in excess. We’ll definitely be making this recipe again. But next time, I’m going to make sure we have some kind of bread to go with the meal, if only to have some kind of method of somehow extracting every remaining bit of sauce off the plates.

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