A Riff on Marcella Hazan’s 3 Ingredient Pasta Sauce

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A celebration of Marcella Hazan’s pasta sauce, with a touch of vanilla



2 pounds fresh ripe tomatoes or 2 cups San Marzano tomatoes, cut up in juices
5 Tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, peeled, and cut in half
Salt to taste
1 teaspoon Rain’s Choice pure vanilla extract


Put peeled fresh tomatoes or canned tomatoes into a 1-1/2 – 2 quart saucepan, along with onion, butter and salt. Bring the ingredients to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes or until the sauce has thickened to your preference and the fat floats free from the sauce. Stir regularly, breaking up the tomatoes with the back of the spoon.
Marcella’s recipe suggests removing the onion at this point but, if you prefer leave it in (I did). I used an immersion blender to create a smooth, lighter sauce. Add vanilla extract if using.

Season to taste and pour over freshly cooked pasta. Serve with Parmigiano Reggiano.


If you are using canned tomatoes, feel free to add the full 28 ounces. The original recipe called for 2 cups tomatoes and juice. A 28-ounce can is nearly 3 cups, but the sauce will cook down — no need to waste!