The Lexingtonienne



Before I got together with an Italian named Duffy, I thought tomato sauce came in a jar labeled Ragu or Prego. The first time I suggested this for dinner, Mike sat in stunned silence, as though I had just said, “I am going to shave my head and get a tattoo on my face.”

tomato sauce ingredients.

When informed that dump-and-heat was not an acceptable dinner option (hi, college, I miss you), I embarked on what would be a very long road to the ideal homemade tomato sauce.

tomato sauce

I spent the next several years of my life slumming around with chopped onions, garlic, mushrooms, basil, oregano, flat-leaf parsley, garlic powder, onion powder, pepper flakes, dashes of sugar, and on and on and on. And it was fine. I could make tomato sauce that was fine. Sorry — I could make tomato gravy that was fine. (These Italians with their language.) Fine, but not amazing.

tomato sauce

A few months ago I stumbled across an oddly simple tomato sauce recipe on Smitten Kitchen. Apparently this recipe has circulated among the food bloggers like a sorority girl in an ill-mannered joke. The food nerds were losing their minds over it, so I set the recipe aside to try at some point. Finally, this week, I did.

tomato sauce

Wow. I could wax annoying about balance and sweetness and acidity and roundness and silkiness, but instead I’ll just say…

tomato sauce

tomato sauce



Adapted from Marcella Hazan’s recipe in The Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking

1 28-oz can whole peeled tomatoes (San Marzano brand if you can find it)
5 T unsalted butter
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and halved
Salt to taste, if needed (the San Marzano tomatoes are already salted, so I did not need additional salt)

Put all ingredients into a heavy saucepan over medium heat. When the sauce comes to a simmer, reduce the heat and cook for about 45 more minutes (or longer is fine), stirring occasionally and crushing the tomatoes with a wooden spoon. Discard the onions, spoon over pasta, and serve with grated parmesan cheese. And if you’re an Italian named Duffy, with a dollop of “regat” (i.e. ricotta cheese) on top.

Supposedly this serves 4. Haha! I say this serves 2 for an entree. You’ll want a little extra for dipping crusty garlic bread – trust me.


Seriously… GO NOW. Do not delay. Especially if you love tomato sauce and you can’t devote much time to cooking because you have an adorable baby. (Hi, Seester!) You have already wasted several minutes. Why are you still reading?!

Run along now,

P.S. Ina and I are in a fight. Her recipes are always SO reliable, but I made her hummus (supposedly one of the easiest things to make, ever) and it was gross. I’m going to have raw garlic taste stuck in my mouth for days. If I start to forgive her a little bit, I may try the recipe again with some serious modifications. If I do, I’ll let you know how it goes.


  • Comment by Col — July 10, 2010 @ 9:22 am

    Sounds yummy! Mike has not shared Gram’s recipe for her homemade gravy with you???? Hmmmmmm……now it’s time to begin the next generation of psudo-I-talian wonderful sauce…I mean gravy.

  • Comment by Katie Alender — July 10, 2010 @ 10:01 am

    Ooh, I think I could actually do this! Shocking!

  • Comment by Adrian Kulp — July 12, 2010 @ 9:49 am

    I am frothing. Mmmmm. Also, I appreciate your use of the word ‘wax’ and so you’re aware, it took me a few minutes to figure out ‘dump-and-heat’. nice.

  • Comment by HaleyD — July 18, 2010 @ 6:25 pm

    We (Dan) made this tonight and it was great! We (he) added red pepper flakes and served it over 3 cheese ravioli. I am stuffed. Thanks for sharing!

  • Pingback by The “Medigan” Makes Turkey Meatballs - The Lexingtonienne — August 25, 2010 @ 12:08 pm

    […] used my new favorite recipe for this, which is very, very easy. I put all the ingredients into a pot and let the sauce cook […]

  • Comment by Sydney Mountford — August 25, 2010 @ 1:13 pm

    I will leave the cooking to my boyfriend but I like the Indigo Girls song reference here!

  • Comment by Amelia — October 13, 2010 @ 10:01 am

    This is d’lish! I’m making for my parents and niece evening. Thank you! L, Mimi

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