Martian Food
Sep 18, 2015

The Martian will be in theaters on October 2nd, and the critics are saying it is a spectacular film. The novel,&n

Tomato Sauce with Onion and Butter

Active time:

Start To Finish:


Yield: 6 servings

Source: Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, Marcella Hazan

   Print Recipe


2 lbs. fresh, ripe plum tomatoes
5 Tbs. unsalted butter
1 medium onion, peeled and cut in half cross-wise
salt, to taste


Peel and seed the tomatoes and purée them in a food processor or blender.  You can make the purée smooth or a bit chunky, depending on your preference.  Or, you can cut the tomatoes lengthwise in half, and put them in a covered saucepan. Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring once. Put the heated tomatoes in batches in a food mill fitted with the disk with the largest holes (for chunkier sauce) or the medium holes (for a smoother sauce) and purée.  (We always use the first method as, quite frankly, we hate using a food mill.)

Put the puréed tomatoes in a saucepan and add the butter, onion halves, and the salt to taste. Cook uncovered at a steady simmer for 45 minutes. Add additional salt if necessary. Discard the onion before serving.


Plum tomatoes are often called Roma tomatoes or Italian plum tomatoes in the supermarket (Roma tomatoes are actually a type of plum tomato).  They are oblong instead of round and have less moisture than normal tomatoes (although who are we to say what is "normal"), so are good for canning and sauces.

We often serve this sauce over penne, although it is excellent with any type of pasta. The sauce is so fresh tasting that you should only make it with the best in-season tomatoes.  Out of season, you can make an acceptable substitute with canned imported Italian tomatoes, preferably San Marzano.  Use about 2 cups, with their juices.

Marcella Hazan is famous for this recipe, and rightly so—it's delicious and very different from your standard red sauce.  It also freezes beautifully.

To leave a comment you have to sign in