Marcella Hazan’s Luxurious, Simple Tomato Sauce

Greetings, lovely readers. This is just a quick post to get you through hump day, and to take some time to remember a great woman through her food.

Last Sunday, the Italian cooking icon Marcella Hazan passed away at the age of 89. I can’t possibly attempt doing any justice to her memory or her legacy, so if you’d like to know more about her, check here and here.

noodles side

In Hazan’s honor, Adam Roberts (of The Amateur Gourmet) made her epic, perfect, amazing, luxurious, yet so simple, tomato sauce, and suggested his readers do the same. I did it, and I feel all happy and fuzzy now. I like the idea that, while food is perishable, people leave behind their recipes the way others leave behind a diary or a scrapbook, or even a great work of art.


After I made this stupefyingly simple tomato sauce, Shorty said it reminded him of the restaurant we visited night after night during our week in Rome.There’s no higher praise. And you can quite possibly make this tomato sauce this very minute. All you need? 28 ounces of tomato, 5 Tablespoons of butter, 1 medium onion, and a pinch of salt. It’s so simple, it’s almost as if a college student made it up.

But it is bewilderingly delicious and tangy and full-bodied, and somehow heart-warming. Make this sauce this instant! And eat it with a textured noodle, by George–one that holds the sauce in its every nook and cranny.

Then put on your seatbelts, because I’m about to order a few of Hazan’s books, and you know what that means–more pasta!!! Soon!!

Fun fact: Radiatori was invented in the 1960s, and it is actually modeled after the radiator. Postmodern pasta!!!

PS – This is a great Italian dish for people who aren’t that into garlic.

noodles side 2

Marcella Hazan’s Luxurious, Perfect, Simple Tomato Sauce, with Radiatori
Serves 3-4

28 oz. crushed tomatoes
5 Tablespoons butter (salted butter worked for me)
1 medium onion, cut in half and peeled
(Pinch salt)
1 lb. radiatori pasta (rotelle and fusilli work too)

1. Combine tomatoes, butter, and onion in a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer, and cook for 45 minutes, uncovered.

2. Meanwhile, cook radiatori in salted water until al dente. Do not strain, or, if your pasta is ready before the sauce, strain and reserve 1/4 cup starchy water.

3. After 45 minutes, remove onions from sauce and add salt, to taste. Use a slotted spoon or spider to transport pasta from boiling pot to saucepan. (The idea is that some of the starchy water will travel with the noodles, binding the sauce to the pasta and slightly thickening it.) Toss until pasta is well coated. If you strained your pasta, add a few tablespoons of the starchy water until sauce reaches a desired consistency.

4. Serve immediately, with shredded parmesan cheese, cracked black pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil.

Feel happy!!!


  1. I am going to try this!!

  2. […] of my favorite recipes to cook on a busy night is Marcella Hazan’s simple tomato sauce (we’re talking dorm room simple), and I wondered what would happen if I made that nutty, […]

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