Make Homemade Tomato Sauce Like The Legendary Marcella Hazan


What's the trick to a great homemade tomato sauce? That depends on who you ask, of course. To Marcella Hazan, the late Italian-American cookbook author, the secret ingredient was butter.

Adding butter to a homemade tomato sauce may seem counterintuitive, especially when you consider olive oil is used extensively in Italian cuisine. However, Hazan was on to something.

Butter lends a smooth mouthfeel to homemade tomato sauce and mellows the acidity of canned tomatoes. Plus, butter is a common ingredient used in the cuisine of Emilia-Romagna, the Italian region where bolognese sauce originated.

Want to take a crack at Hazan's legendary homemade tomato sauce? Here are the ingredients as listed in Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking.

Note: We've taken the liberty of reducing the amount of butter from 5 tablespoons to 2 tablespoons.

  • 1 small onion, cut in half
  • 1 28-oz can of plum tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons of butter (grass fed, if possible)
  • Salt to taste

Melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the tomato purée, the onion halves and a sprinkle of salt. Stir well. Cook over medium-high heat until it bubbles then lower the heat and simmer until thickened. Use the back of a wooden spoon to crush the tomatoes as they cook. Check the seasoning and add desired amount of salt. Discard the onion and serve this homemade tomato sauce with your favorite pasta.