Tomato Sauce with Butter and Onion

Tomato Sauce with Butter and Onion- A Cookbook Collection


I recently bought Food52 Genius Recipes by Kristen Miglore, a collection of her favourite recipes from her Food52 column. When I saw that she had included Marcella Hazan’s renowned Tomato Sauce with Butter and Onion recipe I knew it had to give it a go. I have read for years about the simplicity and tastiness of this dish. And there are times when you just can’t beat a bowl of spaghetti in tomato sauce!

When I make a tomato sauce I don’t use a recipe but it usually goes like this: fry a red onion and a clove of garlic, add tomato puree, red wine and a tin of tomatoes. Season with dried oregano, salt, pepper and sugar and a splash of balsamic vinegar. To this you can add anything: chilli, bacon, sausage, chorizo or roasted vegetables. It is not difficult but takes a little effort. This classic Marcella Hazan recipe however, requires almost no chopping and just everything simmering in a pot for about 45 minutes while you put your feet up! It does suggest fresh chopped tomatoes but we are never going to get tomatoes in Ireland that are quite up to the job so I go with tinned. It keeps it even simpler. But do make sure you use the best tinned tomatoes you can find.

Is it my favourite tomato sauce? Probably not but for such a  short list of ingredients it does deliver a great flavour.

Serves 4

Tomato Sauce with Butter and Onion -A Cookbook Collection


  • 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 60g butter
  • 1 onion, peeled and halved
  • Salt and pepper
  • Approx. 400g of dried Spaghetti
  • Parmesan cheese and freshly cracked black pepper for serving


  • Put the tin of tomatoes, butter and salt into a medium saucepan. Place the two halves of the peeled onion with the cut side down into the pan.
  • Bring the sauce to a low simmer and cook it this way uncovered for about 45 minutes until the sauce is thickened to your liking. Stir it from time to time. Taste and season with more salt and a little pepper. I could not resist adding pepper, it was all I could do not to add garlic!
  • Remove the onion –  you can eat this on the side if you like.
  • Add the cooked spaghetti along with a small bit of the pasta cooking water to the sauce and mix thoroughly to combine.
  • Serve with a garnish of freshly grated parmesan and black pepper.

Tomato Sauce with Butter and Onion - A Cookbook Collection


7 thoughts on “Tomato Sauce with Butter and Onion

  1. Very elegant looking dish. Strange that I should be reading this on the day that I have just written a post on making tomato sauce. So many variations. Such lovely sauces!

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