Sunday, July 25, 2010

Less is More

Here is a recipe for those days when all you have the energy for is to boil some pasta and have it with some canned sauce. This is almost as easy as opening a can of sauce, and tastes much better.

I've been meaning to try this sauce for a few months now. I guess the delay was largely attached to my wariness of just how unbelievably good this sauce with only four ingredients (and that's including salt!) was. I just didn't get it. Plus there's nothing else in it. Just sauce. I tend to like my pasta sauces
with lots of onion, veggies and ground beef. So I had to be in a particular type of mood to make this one.

I don't know if I'd say this was the best tomato sauce I've ever had. But I will say that this is probably the only tomato sauce I'd be tempted to eat straight up with a spoon. It's so simple, but feels quite luxurious and (to quote Laura) is weirdly addictive. If I didn't make it myself I'd say there was crack in it. The added butter and simmered onion makes the sauce really rich and smooth and for two ingredients, adds a great deal of flavour.

The one problem here is that I'm not sure exactly what the right pasta for this sauce is. We had it with some homemade tri-coloured pasta from the market, which was good but I felt a bit like the pasta and sauce were fighting for my attention. "Eat me, taste me! I'm delicious!" Well, yes it's true that both were delicious, but I think next time I might go for a simple white shell or fusilli noodle that is going to more or less act as a vehicle to get more sauce into my mouth. Yum.

Buttery Tomato Sauce

adapted from from Marcela Hazan's Essentials of Italian Cooking, via SmittenKitchen

28 oz can of whole peeled tomatoes (San Marzano if you have them)
5 tbsp (70 grams) unsalted butter
1 medium-sized yellow onion, peeled and halved
Salt to taste

1. Put the tomatoes, onion and butter in a heavy saucepan (I used my dutch oven as I don't have a saucepan) over medium heat.

2. 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.

3. Remove from heat, discard the onion, add salt to taste and keep warm while you prepare your pasta.

Serve with pasta, with or without grated parmesan for topping.

*Some of the comments I read on this recipe said that you needed to cook a little longer (maybe an additional 20 minutes) at a higher heat to really get some more flavour in the sauce. I thought it still tasted a little bland after 45 minutes, but I was going to play squash so I turned off the heat and let the sauce sit with the onions for about an hour. Then when I got back I reheated to a simmer and then removed the onions. It made a huge difference in the flavour. might want to simmer for closer to an hour.

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