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Several years ago I found this amazing tomato sauce recipe that was so simple it was deceiving how good it was. The woman and chef behind this amazing sauce was quite a character in the culinary world. She was the chain-smoking, opinionated, Italian alternative during Julia Child’s skyrocketing fame and she was amazing. The more I find about about her the more enamored I become of her, her cooking, and her approach to food. Marcella Hazan passed away just last year but she had such an effect on how Americans cook and eat Italian food; even if you’d never heard of her, you probably cook things a certain way because of her. Here’s a great NY Times article, written shortly after her death.

Marcella Hazan’s tomato sauce is the most requested item in our house and one of the most versatile sauces I’ve ever encountered.  I call it 3 ingredient sauce and it’s beautiful. It’s so simple in it’s makings but the purest, most delicious, perfect tomato flavor. When I made it for my husband while we were dating he began requesting it and soon we had it at least once a week. I wouldn’t go so far as to credit this 3 ingredient sauce for our marriage but it certainly helped.:)

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Homemade margherita pizza with 3 Ingredient Sauce

This sauce makes for a really easy dinner too. As the sauce cooks you can saute chicken or veggies and cook the pasta. When that’s all done, the sauce will be ready. I’ve also made big batches of this sauce and frozen it for later.

Surprisingly, I can’t find photos of me cooking the sauce but it’s such an easy sauce I really don’t think you need a play by play. I prepare it a little differently than the recipe I found on a blog called SteamyKitchen.com. The original recipe instructs you to halve an onion and when the sauce is done cooking, to remove it. I like to thinly slice the onion and leave it in the sauce. It makes for a chunkier, heartier sauce. I also use unsalted butter so I can control my salt intake. So, technically it’s a 4 ingredient tomato sauce but if you were to use salted butter, it would be 3.

I do however have pics of what I’ve use the sauce for. I bowl of pasta with this sauce is super comforting but I’ve also put it on pizzas, zucchini pasta, used in in lasagna, simmered shrimp in it, poached eggs in it and eaten it with just scraps of bread when I’ve run out of pasta. It’s that good.

shrimp and 3 ing sauce

Old Bay dusted shrimp with 3 Ingredient sauce over zucchini noodles

So without further adieu, Marcella Hazan’s Tomato Sauce:

1 28 oz. can of whole or diced tomatoes with juices (San Marzano tomatoes are best for this recipe)

5 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 medium onion, peeled and halved (I like a chunkier sauce so I thinly slice my onion)

Salt

Combine the tomatoes and juices, butter and onion in a saucepan. Add a pinch or two of salt.

Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook, uncovered for 45 mins. Stir occasionally and use the back of a wooden spoon to smash any large pieces of tomato. Taste and add salt as needed.

When the sauce is done cooking, you can discard the onion if you halved it. This recipe makes enough sauce for 1 lb. of pasta.

Sooooooooo gooooooood.