I have been battling a migraine this weekend, so I needed a quick fix for dinner last night. After doing much reading, I found that lots and LOTS of food bloggers are in love with a very simple recipe for tomato sauce that involves simply simmering a 28 oz can of whole tomatoes with butter and a whole onion for 45 minutes. This sounded too good to be true, but HOW EASY?!? I figured that I should give it a try...after all it is "famous" and "delicate" and "magical" just to quote a few of the effervescent reviews of this apparent Italian staple. I followed all of the instructions and was beside myself to taste it. I was in for a big disappointment. As it turns out, the secret to this sauce is not only the butter and whole onion that the tomatoes are stewed in, but I think it is also the tomatoes themselves. All of the chefs wax poetic about the jar of "San Marzano" whole tomatoes. Of course, I was at Wal-Mart yesterday, not Central Market. The only jar I could get was Hunts. Yep, you guessed it...not the same thing. Did you know that San Marzano tomatoes are grown at the base of a volcano in Italy?? Yeah, me either. But I digress. The sauce was rather...shall we say, blah. No magic for me. I was excited to use my immersion blender because I love it and look for reasons to bust it out (Colin, do you want me to puree those Cheerios?), so that part was fun. :-) Once I tasted it, I started to fix it. I added salt, lots of pepper, garlic powder, and probably 1/4 a cup of heavy cream that was left over in the fridge. (not much! just a little! see, I am healthy!) I will say that with only that little bit extra, the sauce turned into heaven. It was absolutely fantastic! Colin ate a giant plate of it, as did Jer and I. I am making this again ASAP! It was very easy and it turned out to be one of my all-time favorite tomato sauces that I have ever tasted! Who knew?! I will also be finding a can of those awesome little San Marzano tomatoes VERY soon and trying this again. I have a feeling that with better quality tomatoes, it would not have needed the additional salt. But I do think that everything in the world is better with garlic, pepper and a smidge of cream. I'm just saying. :-)
VERY important. This does NOT make very much sauce. If I was just serving two helpings of pasta, this size would be fine. However, if you are like me and enjoy a lot of sauce on your pasta, have big eaters in your family, and enjoy having leftovers for lunch the next day, then double this! I will for SURE be doing that next time!
Tomato Sauce with Butter and Onions
28 ounces whole peeled tomatoes from a can (San Marzano, if you can find them)
*5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium-sized yellow onion, peeled and halved
1/4 cup(ish) heavy cream
Salt, Pepper, Garlic Powder
Put the tomatoes, onion and butter in a heavy saucepan (I used my small dutch oven) over medium heat. Bring the sauce to a simmer then lower the heat to keep the sauce at a slow, steady simmer for about 45 minutes, or until droplets of fat float free of the tomatoes. Stir occasionally, crushing the tomatoes against the side of the pot with a wooden spoon. (I used my immersion blender after cooking was complete) Remove from heat, discard the onion, add salt, pepper, garlic powder to taste and then stir in the cream. Next time I will probably add the salt, pepper and garlic powder at the beginning since I usually like spices to simmer while cooking. This time, it was after the fact because I did not like the original as it was. It was still fantastic even though the spices were an afterthought!
I served it with rotini pasta (because Colin loves to eat those) and good parmesan that I grate myself over the dishes.
I will be reporting on this again when I try the San Marzano tomatoes. :-)