Simple Things

Coming out of the office after a long, hard day and turning on the car just in time to catch the beginning of a favorite song on the radio.

An unexpected drink special at a favorite restaurant.

Stepping into a fitting room and discovering it fits, it makes you look smokin’ hot and it’s on sale.

The perfect candid photo.

Celebrating the good news of family and friends, even the little things.

Waking up early on a Saturday morning and realizing there’s no such thing as an alarm clock that day.

Warm, gooey chocolate chip cookies and ice cold milk.

A baby’s laugh.

Finding a piece of jewelry you thought was long gone.

Beautiful weather on the day of an outdoor event.

New recipe success.

Pushing a little bit harder during a workout. Then feeling like a rock star afterward.

A book that stays with you long after you turn the last page.

Finding a favorite movie on TV on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

Comfortable heels.

A plate of pasta topped with a homemade tomato sauce and just sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.

You may think that last one isn’t simple at all. Homemade tomato sauce? Doesn’t that take…like hours? Isn’t there lots of like…onion chopping and garlic mincing? Isn’t there all these herbs to deal with and stuff? Ugh. Who has time for that? That’s what those jars at the grocery store are for.

This here’s a recipe that is as simple as it gets. Not only is it simple, it’s good. Really good. I’m talking about good in The Best Sauce I’ve Ever Made kind of way. I try not be overly effusive when describing the food in my blog because, let’s face it, not every single thing can be the best thing ever. But this sauce…this really is the best tomato sauce I’ve ever made at home. Seriously. Honestly. Cross my heart and hope to die.

Here’s a needle. I will stand here quietly and let you stick it directly in my eye if you make it and don’t agree. If that’s not a promise I don’t know what is.

Let me walk you through the ingredients. I hope you’re taking notes. There may be a quiz. Here’s what you need: 1 can whole tomatoes. 1 yellow onion. A little bit of butter. Salt if ya need it.

Don’t worry about pureeing the tomatoes. Just pour them into a stock pot. Don’t even think about dicing that onion. Just lop it half and remove the peel and plop it in the tomatoes. Don’t cut the butter into tiny pieces or melt it carefully over low heat until it clarifies. Just drop it right down in there with the others.

Turn on heat. Simmer. Stir occasionally. You can totally go do something else. Just come back every now and then and give it a whirl with your wooden spoon. Crush the tomatoes against the side of the pot while you do it. This is far from a chore because you get to stand there and just inhale the yumminess on the stove top. How can three ingredients smell so good? Tell me. HOW? It shouldn’t be! But it is.

I’ve had my eye on this recipe ever since Deb posted it at Smitten Kitchen. I’m not sure what took me so long to get around to making it but now that I have, I’ll be making it all the time. It’s so easy, there’s no excuse not to!

A couple of notes here. The recipe recommends San Marzano tomatoes. These are tomatoes grown in a specific region of Italy and (supposedly) the best canned tomatoes out there. I can’t speak for those in them-there-big-city-fancy-pants-places πŸ˜‰ but out here in my much smaller Midwest market, I have never seen these at the regular grocery store. I happened to have the San Marzanos around this time around because I picked some up the last time I was at Whole Foods in the Chicago area. That was kind of a fluke, since the closest Whole Foods is two hours from me, so I will probably be trying this sauce with a good old grocery store tomatoes some day soon. I’ll let ya know how it turns out!

And also, check the ingredient list on your can of tomatoes to see if they come pre-salted. Mine were unsalted so I added kosher salt until I like the taste of it. If your tomatoes are salted, I’d taste before adding salt to see what you think.

Now go make this simple recipe and make it dinner tonight!!

TOMATO SAUCE WITH ONION AND BUTTER (Recipe Source: Originally adapted from: Essentials of Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan, as seen at Smitten Kitchen)


  • 1 – 28 oz. can whole peeled tomatoes (San Marzano, if available)
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 medium-sized yellow onion, peeled and cut in half
  • Salt to taste (if needed)


Combine tomatoes, onion and butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Bring the sauce to a simmer then lower the heat. Cook the sauce at a steady simmer for about 45 minutes, or until droplets of fat float to surface. Stir occasionally, crushing the tomatoes against the side of the pot with a wooden spoon. Remove from heat, discard the onion, and add salt if needed. Serve with hot pasta and grated Parmesan if desired. Serves 4 as a main course.


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Filed under pasta, vegetarian, veggies

3 responses to “Simple Things

  1. Butter and tomatoes…mmm…mmm…MMMM!

  2. Oh my gosh, yes. Simple things, simple sauces, so good. I made my own tomato sauce recently too. It’s so worth it!

  3. Looks fantastic~ I have been meaning to make this for forever…your post has spurred me into action!

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