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20 Minutes or Less

Essential Three-Ingredient Red Sauce

Apr 15, 2020

This classic of Italian cooking is also one of the simplest to master. Your favorite variety of tomatoes (we like San Marzano best) mingle with onion and butter to create a velvety smooth red sauce that’s ready for all manner of pizza, pasta, parm—and everything in between.

Servings: 4

Work Time: 15 Minutes

Hang Time: 45 Minutes


  • 1 28oz can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 5 tbsp EVOO
  • 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and halved
  • Salt to taste



  1. Combine your canned tomatoes and their juices with the oil and onion halves in your Sauce Pan. Add a pinch or two of salt.
  2. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook uncovered for about 45 minutes—the longer your sauce simmers, the more flavors will be drawn out from your onions and tomatoes, the more deliciousness ensues. The downtime also doubles as a nice excuse to kick back with yourself for a bit, take in the B side of an album, fold some laundry, whatever you fancy.
  3. Stir every now and again, and be sure to mash-up any large chunks with your Slotted Spoon.
  4. Feel free to dip a hunk of bread as you go to test saltiness (and because it's tasty).
  5. Fish out your onion halves from the sauce, they’ve finished their job here.
  6. Add salt to taste, and smother on anything you like. Makes enough to lightly coat about a pound of pasta.

Inspired by Marcella Hazan's Tomato Sauce recipe that originally appeared in NYT cooking.

Quick Tip

Customize the recipe to suit your own cravings, sprinkle in some red pepper flakes for a spicy kick, or fold in torn basil for an herbaceous spin. This sauce also makes a great base for meat sauce, just stir together with browned and seasoned meat after following the steps above.

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