Butter, Onion & Tomato Sauce

Tuesday 24 March 2020

We certainly are living in interesting times.   A tad bit scary, but its all pretty much out of our control. So long as we are washing our hands frequently, not touching our faces and isolating or practicing safe social distancing, we should be safe.

We have been self isolating for about a week and a half now, which means that we are not leaving the house and we are relying on our food storage for the most part when it comes to cooking and eating.   The recipe I am sharing with you today is the perfect store cupboard recipe and proof positive that you don't really need a lot of fancy ingredients to provide a delicious meal for your family.

In fact this dish only really requires 4 ingredients.  A jar of some really good Italian peeled tomatoes.  A package of pasta. Some butter and an onion.  You might also want some grated Parmesan cheese to sprinkle on top of the finished dish.  This is so, so, so simple and I have to tell you it is one of the most delicious pasta dishes you could ever want to eat. 

You really want to use good tomatoes with this recipe.  They are the main ingredient so it only makes sense that you would want to use the best that you can find. Today I used Buonassai Pomodoro Pelato, Bio in Salsa.    These are fabulously delicious Italian tomatoes.   This jar was whole peeled plum tomatoes in tomato sauce.  They came from an online source. Cibilia, purveyors of fine Italian foods.

The pasta also came from Cibilia..   This is an artisanal Slow Dried Pasta Demetra - Fusilli.  This pasta has been made in Scampitella (AV) 800 meters above the sea and it has been slowly dried with the truly pure mountain air. This is a pasta workshop run by a young couple. I think their pasta is excellent. 

I was sent a nice package of quality Italian ingredients to try a couple of weeks ago, containing several types of pasta, some jars of peeled as well as unpeeled Italian tomatoes, Italian Olive oil, several Italian wines and a variety of Italian Flours.  I am going to enjoy using them over these next few weeks.  This lock down is the perfect opportunity for me to put them through their paces!

This was the perfect sauce to use some of those tomatoes in.  As I said it is a very simple sauce and is perfect for showcasing tomatoes to their very best.

You can use fresh tomatoes in season if you have them, but in the Winter months, the only way to go is a good bottled or tinned peeled  Italian plum tomato.

The tomatoes get dumped into a saucepan along with a peeled and halved onion and some butter.  That's it.

You simmer these three things for about 45 to 50  minutes over low heat, until the sauce thickens to your desired thickness. 

I like to mash the tomatoes every now and then with the back of a wooden spoon and to make sure that they are not sticking to the bottom of the saucepan.

I suppose if you really wanted to you could add some garlic, but really  . . .  that onion gives such a wonderful flavour to the sauce, you don't need anything else.

Trust me on this.  Not even any salt and pepper  . . .

It is perfect just as it is.  You can of course discard the onion once the sauce has cooked  . . .

I like to leave it in however  . . .  it tastes delicious to me.  Its all a matter of preference I think  . . .

I left the tomatoes just a bit chunky, and the onion, whole  . . .

The pasta al dente . . .  with just a bit of bite.  Again, a personal preference.  I do like a smattering of cheese and coarsely ground black pepper on mine  . . .

I adapted the recipe from one I found in the book, Food 52 Genius Recipes, and it was considered delicious enough to put on the cover.  The original recipe is attributed to Chef Marcella Hazen.

Butter, Onion & Tomato Sauce

Butter, Onion & Tomato Sauce

Yield: 6
I adapted this recipe for one which was found in a cookery book which I love entitled Food 52 Genius Recipes.  It's a simple sauce with BIG flavour.   Whoever said that it was the simple things in life which mattered most was right!


  • 480g canned or bottled imported Italian tomatoes, cut up with their juice (2 cups)
  • (alternately you can use 2 pounds (900g) fresh ripe tomatoes, blanched, peeled and cut into chunks)
  • 70g butter (5 TBS)
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and cut in half
  • salt
  • 1 to 1 1/2 pounds pasta, cooked, for serving
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • Freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, for serving


How to cook Butter, Onion & Tomato Sauce

  1. Put the tomatoes into a large saucepan. Add the butter, onion halves and some salt. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a very slow simmer and cook for about 45 minutes, or until it is to your preferred thickness and the onion has imparted it's flavour to the sauce. Stir occasionally breaking up any large pieces of tomato with the back of a wooden spoon. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired. The recipe says to discard the onion, but I kept it in and just mashed it into the tomatoes. (It was good.) Toss with your cooked pasta.  Serve with the freshly grated cheese.

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There's that onion, so sweet  . . .  and delicious.

And then there was none  . . .  All I was missing was a good Italian loaf to wipe up all the juices.  Its the simple things really that matter most.  I know I am always saying that, but . . .  its truth.


  1. I really, really, have to learn not to read your blog when I am hungry LOL. This looks amazing... My mum often made simple pasta and tomato sauce...and it always made for wiped clean plates....and there isn't a drop of Italian blood in our veins .... ;-). Stay safe and well ~ Robin

    1. What I really love about this recipe Robin, is its simplicity!! Proof positive that the simple things are really best of all. You stay safe and well also! xoxo

  2. I'm doing the same, eating down the cupboards and finding creative ways to use the ingredients there to keep it fun. This one looks good!

  3. What exactly was the adaptation you made, some pepper? Some cheese? It's Marcella Hazan's recipe & you're not giving proper credit, shame on you for the plagiarism!

    1. Excuse me! Shame on you! I properly credited the source of the recipe in the recipe above as having come from a cookery book entitled Food 52 Genius Recipes! I have also adapted the measurements so that my British readers can use the appropriate amounts! Perhaps you should read all the way through before you make a judgement on someone else!


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