Marcella's Tomato Sauce with Onion and Butter

By Ms.Gourmet on March 1, 2010 10:43 PM
I've been making Marcella's simple, yet exquisite tomato sauce for years, but never thought to blog about it until recently. You see I just so happened to mention on twitter that I was about to throw a tin of San Marzano tomatoes into a saucepan with an onion and a rather large amount of butter and was instantly inundated with recipe requests via my facebook page.

I naively assumed that you were all making your pasta sauce this way, because this is the *only* way to make tomato sauce, right? But I was soon to discover that some of you have yet to discover Marcella's sublime tomato sauce with onion and butter.

I kid you not, once you try this luxurious tomato sauce you'll probably never revert back to the garlic, olive oil and basil version that you were raised on. This dear reader is how tomato sauce ought to taste - pure, honest, sweet, rich and buttery.

One thing I will insist upon is that if you are going to make this sauce then do use San Marzano tomatoes. Sure you can use any old tinned tomatoes, but there is just something extraordinary about San Marzano tomatoes. Oh and if possible try and get your hands on some good organic butter and while you're at it why not grab some good quality sea salt too?

Tomato Sauce with Onion and Butter

Adapted from Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking


2 x 400g tins of San Marzano tomatoes

6 tbsp French butter, unsalted

1 medium onion, peeled and cut in half

Sea salt, to taste



1. Place the tomatoes, onion, butter and salt in a saucepan and cook uncovered at a slow, steady simmer for about 45 minutes or until the fat floats free from the tomato.  

2. Stir the sauce occasionally and mash any large pieces of tomato in the saucepan with the back of a wooden spoon. Season to taste and discard the onion before tossing the sauce through some gnocchi, ravioli, spaghetti, penne, or rigatoni. Serve with a generous amount freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.


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Recent Comments

  • Ms.Gourmet: I have made this sauce with normal Italian tinned tomatoes read more
  • Gab*: I have never made pasta sauce this way but I'm read more
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