Simple, Three-Ingredient Tomato Sauce from Marcella Hazan!

| June 18, 2012 | 3 Comments

This recipe is so simple you can tag it as “child’s play.” It’s one of those recipes that has gone viral on the Internet.

And……it contains only three simple ingredients. Voila!

Onion + Butter + Tomatoes + 45 minutes = Heavenly Tomato Sauce - Just add to cooked pasta!

One fine day, not too long ago, I was making one of my house sauces and had enough time and energy to make some homemade garlic toast. After lavishly spreading my bread with the garlicky butter, I had about a tablespoon or two left over so I tumped it into my sauce. Man, was this sauce smooth. Vic and Pranee knew there was a secret ingredient but couldn’t identify it.

It wasn’t the garlic or other spices that made a difference; it was the butter.

Now back to Marcella’s sauce, the most famous tomato sauce on the Internet, from Marcella Hazan’s Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. The Italians always nail it with the simple things in cooking.

Let’s get cooking

Marcella Hazan’s Tomato Sauce with Onion and Butter


  1. 1 28-ounce (.8 kg) can of plum tomatoes from San Marzano (I use Muir Glen which is considered local in Oregon.)
  2. 1 medium onion, peeled and cut in half
  3. 5 tablespoons (89 ml.) salted butter
  4. Salt and pepper to taste


  • Place all in a heavy saucepan, bring to a simmer and simmer away for 45 minutes.
  • Remove onion and discard. Shut your mouth, Marcella, I can think of many uses for a gently used onion. Chop it up and cook with something else or do as I did: add a little salt and pepper and munch away.
  • Taste and correct seasoning if necessary.
  • Whisk any loose butter back into the sauce

Note: I whizzed it with an immersion blender after I removed the onion.

Now cook some pasta and have at it. I served it with some wonderful Zenner’s Italian sausages on the side.  I’m happy to report that any leftover sauce improves with age.

Fusilli with Marcella's tomato sauce and Zenner's Italian Sausages

Buon appetito!

— Charles




Category: Sauce

About the Author (Author Profile)

Music, food and photography are at the center of Charles’ life. He performed with the Dallas Symphony, Dallas Opera and was assistant principal bassoonist with the Fort Worth Symphony for more than 20 years. When Charles and Victor moved to Baltimore, Charles created Lone Star Personal Chef and Catering Service and taught cooking classes at Williams-Sonoma. Now in Salem, Charles is a Realtor with Coldwell Banker Mountain West Real Estate, taught cooking classes for children at the A.C. Gilbert Discovery Village, and owns and operates Charles Price Photography. Charles and Vic enjoy entertaining and frequently host dinners as fundraisers for local non-profits and charities

Comments (3)

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  1. Ginny Renaud says:

    I’m so happy to see you writing again. You have a twist to words that only Charles can spin. Keep writing. I miss you and Victor.

  2. Barbara Grove says:

    My gosh! I can’t believe how easy this is AND can’t wait to try it! I’m so happy to be hearing from The Taste of Oregon again!


  3. Shonnie says:

    Yummy easy sauce. I’ve never heard of buttery pasta sauce but now I’m so glad that’s no longer true. Thank you Charles and Marcella!

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