Marcella Hazen’s Tomato Sauce with Onion & Butter

Raven Higheagle


Marcella Hazan’s tomato sauce is every bit as delicious as everyone has claimed.

When I dipped my wooden spoon into my pot of gently simmering tomatoes, lifted it to my mouth, and tasted the freshest, lightest, most delectable flavors.

Rest assured that you, too, can cook like an Italian grandmother. This sauce is gold.

Note: You can watch the video on Food52 on blanching tomatoes, it's very helpful.

Featured Pinch Tips Video



Makes 2 Cups (more or less)


10 Min


45 Min


Stove Top


2 lb
fresh, ripe tomatoes, prepared as described below, or 2 cups canned imported italian tomatoes, cut up, with their juice
5 Tbsp
1 medium
onion, peeled and cut in half
salt to taste

Directions Step-By-Step

Put either the prepared fresh tomatoes or the canned in a saucepan, add the butter, onion, and salt.
Cook uncovered at a very slow, but steady simmer for about 45 minutes, or until it is thickened to your liking and the fat floats free from the tomato.
Stir from time to time, mashing up any large pieces of tomato with the back of a wooden spoon. Taste and correct for salt.
Making Fresh Tomatoes Ready for Sauce:

fresh, ripe plum tomatoes (or other varieties, if they are equally ripe and truly fruity, not watery)
The blanching method:

Plunge the tomatoes in boiling water for a minute or less. Drain them and, as soon as they are cool enough to handle, skin them, and cut them into coarse pieces.
The freezing method:

Freeze tomatoes on a baking sheet until hard. Thaw again, either on the counter or under running water. Skin them and cut them into coarse pieces.
The food mill method:

Wash the tomatoes in cold water, cut them lengthwise in half, and put them in a covered saucepan.
Turn on the heat to medium and cook for 10 minutes.
Set a food mill fitted with the disk with the largest holes over a bowl.
Transfer the tomatoes with any of their juices to the mill and puree.