Sunday, April 1, 2012

Heavenly Tomato Onion Butter Sauce

I don't know how or why, but despite my actual German/English/Scottish/Russian/Southern US ancestry, my favorite food is far-and-away Italian. There is NOTHING better than a mix of tomatoes, garlic, cheese, basil, and carbs. Pizza, spaghetti, caprese salads, garlic bread...all these things take me straight to food nirvana. 

Everyone has "their" red sauce. You know, the one that they grew up eating or learned to make in college. The only one that they will make for guests. The one they plan on teaching their children. I am lucky, because I have THREE sauces. There is the completely inauthentic one with ground beef and a seasoning packet that I grew up with. It was the first thing I learned to cook (besides boxed mac and cheese). I've made some slight improvements, including using real garlic and onions in olive oil instead of garlic and onion powders. 2 cans tomato sauce instead of 1 can paste and some water. I got rid of the disgustingly slimy canned mushrooms. But still, the McCormick's spaghetti sauce with mushrooms seasoning packet - I can never get rid of that. (No other brand is as good, either.) 

Then I have the basic pomodoro sauce. That's the marinara sauce with herbs and some soft garlic and onion. Once in awhile a tiny bit of red pepper flakes makes it in there just for a surprise. Left over red wine makes it luscious. Quick, easy, versatile, it is perfect for a surprise guest because I always have the ingredients. With eggplant or chicken parmigiana, as a dip for garlic bread or pizza rolls or even as a makeshift pizza sauce at the last minute. This will probably be the first thing my children learn.

But these aren't what's going on right now. At this very moment (for the last 3 months actually), all I can think about is a sauce with 4 ingredients. 4. One of those is salt. 

No chopping, no sauteing or sweating, no room to hide imperfections. This is foodie heaven. It's rich and thick and is totally a "set it and forget it" dinner for when you didn't do the dishes and don't have room or energy to do anything else but put a pan on the stove and open a can of tomatoes. 

Try this at least once instead of your normal sauce. Please. You may not love it as much as I do. All I know is when I swirl my noodles in this sauce and stuff my mouth, no matter what is going on, that moment is perfect. 

From Smitten Kitchen

Tomato sauce with Onion and Butter
28 oz can whole peeled or crushed tomatoes (SK recommends San Marzano tomatoes but I haven't seen them in Greeley and they're prohibitively expensive for how often I eat this. I use Sprouts brand and they are fine. Splurge to make it even better.)
1/2 stick (4 Tbsp) unsalted butter
1 med white onion, peeled and halved
Salt to taste

Combine tomatoes, onion, and butter in heavy sauce pan on medium heat. Bring to simmer for about 45 minutes, until slightly thickened and onions are completely cooked through and soft. If you used whole tomatoes, smash with a potato masher or the back of a wooden spoon until a consistency you like. Season with salt to taste. Remove onion and either save to eat on the side, on a sandwich tomorrow or toss it (noooooooooo!). 

Serve with long thin pasta cooked in well-salted water until al dente. For a bowl of pasta, I use about 1/2 - 3/4 cup of sauce. Americans use too much sauce. This is rich, so serve it on the light side and add from there.

You will be tempted to add things. Garlic, basil, parmesan, etc. DON'T DO IT. At least wait until you try it as written. Honestly, no matter what I add, I like it plain better.

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