Eighty-four year old Marcella Hazan is known as the godmother of Italian cooking. Now, we’re talking about Italian food here – and that is one esteemed title to be had. Her very first cookbook The Classic Italian Cookbook was only published when she was fifty. I only came across this legend of cookery when I started reading and writing food blogs and many other foodie bloggers were raving about this recipe and that recipe…I knew I had to find out more.
Epicurious did an interview with Marcella Hazan (read the full interview here) which I found totally endearing and it made me want to meet Mrs Hazan herself. She sounds like a wonderful, Italian mama. I found what she said about cooking simple food to be so true – “It’s not easy to make a simple dish because you don’t do too many things and you have to do it right.”
She’s so right. I tried her infamous tomato pasta sauce which sounds completely simple with only three ingredients – yes, three! And I think I messed it up. Firstly, I did this on a weeknight, so I had limited time and rushed the cooking process. Secondly, I didn’t have canned plum tomatoes, only chopped regular ones and finally, I forgot to buy fresh parmesan cheese and so resorted to pre-packed grated ones. The result of it was a very pleasant, simple tomato sauce but I can imagine if I had gotten the right ingredients, and gave the whole cooking process a lot more love and care…it would have been totally and amazingly delicious. I’m definitely going to get my act together and try this recipe again sometime.
Now I’ll leave you with Mrs Hazan’s tomato sauce with onion and butter recipe:
Adapted from her book Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking
2 cups whole, peeled, canned plum tomatoes, chopped, with their juices
5 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and cut in half
Salt, to taste
Combine the tomatoes, their juices, the butter, and the onion halves in a medium saucepan. Add a pinch or two of salt. Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Cook, uncovered, at a very slow but steady simmer, adjusting the heat as necessary, for about 45 minutes, or until droplets of fat float free from the tomato. Stir occasionally, mashing any large pieces of tomato with the back of a wooden spoon. Taste and salt as needed.
Discard the onion before tossing the sauce with pasta.