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Simple Tomato-Butter Pasta

With the holidays and year-end deadlines, I spent the last part of December running around town a lot, and it’s either been snowy, rainy – ¬†or both — and all I’ve wanted to do when I walk in the apartment is take off my wet clothes, put on my sweatpants, and flop down on the bed and watch something silly on BBC Prime Europe. On nights like this, I turn to an old friend to create a dinner that’s the easiest thing to make on the planet.

I found this recipe in Marcella Hazan’s “Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking” many years ago, when I was in love with all things Italian (including an undercover cop named Leonardo, who lived in Florence) and spent my afternoons making homemade gnocchi and ravioli di spinaci. I was working my way through Hazan’s cookbook, and saw this – a tomato sauce made of just three ingredients — I wondered how it could possibly taste as good as she said that it did. Tomatoes, butter, onion. That was it. Seriously? I was skeptical.

But it is indeed so good that while it’s cooking – about 45 minutes to reduce so the tomatoes are nice and sweet — I always taste the sauce every now and then, just to make sure it’s coming along as it should. Because you just never know. Ingredients can be tricky and if there’s one thing that I’ve learned, you must always, taste, taste, taste.

When I make this, I’m usually standing over the stove with a glass of wine in one hand and a torn piece of baguette in the other, dipping and dunking into the chunky, buttery sauce.

Which, I might as well warn you, you will eat every bit of.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Tomato-Butter Pasta

Adapted from “Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking” by Marcella Hazan

1 32 oz. can diced tomatoes in juice
5 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion (white or yellow), peeled and cut in half
sea salt
1 pound pasta (I like penne, but you may use whatever pasta you’d like)
freshly grated Parmesan, for serving

Put the tomatoes, onion and butter in a medium saucepan and turn the heat on medium-low. Cook for 45 minutes, or until the sauce reduces to a thick, chunky (rather than watery) texture. Serve with pasta and grated Parmesan.