Tomato Sauce with Butter and Onion

from Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking
  • 2 pounds fresh, ripe tomatoes, prepared as described below, OR 2 cups canned imported Italian plum tomatoes, cut up, with their juice
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and cut in half
  • Salt
  • 1 to 1½ pounds pasta
  • Freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese for the table

Put either the prepared fresh tomatoes or the canned in a saucepan, add the butter, onion, and salt, and cook uncovered at a very slow, but steady simmer for 45 minutes, or until the fat floats free from the tomato. Stir from time to time, mashing any large piece of tomato in the pan with the back of a wooden spoon. Taste and correct for salt. Discard the onion before tossing the sauce with pasta.

Recommended pasta: This is an unsurpassed sauce for potato gnocchi, but it is also delicious with factory-made pasta in such shapes as spaghetti, penne, or rigatoni. Serve with grated Parmesan.May be frozen when done. Discard the onion before freezing.

Making Fresh Tomatoes Ready for Sauce: Unless the recipe indicates otherwise, fresh, ripe tomatoes must be prepared to use for sauce following one of the two methods given below. The blanching method can lead to a meatier, more rustic consistency. The food mill method produces a silkier, smoother sauce.

The Blanching Method: Plunge the tomatoes in boiling water for a minute or less. Drain them and, as soon as they are cool enough to handle, skin them, and cut them up in coarse pieces.