A pushover. Yup, that's me. Just the mention of Italian food, or more precisely a perfect bowl of pasta and sauce, gets my taste buds jumping up and down in joyful aniticipation. There's nothing else that leaves the foodie in me soulfully satisfied in quite this way.
Which easily explains my endearing love affair with the legendary Marcella Hazan and my eternal gratitude to her for bringing us her take on the art of Italian cooking.
Marcella is unknowingly my secret auntie. Oh sure, sure, don't act like I'm the only one who fantasizes about having a gracious and revered family member who, at the turn of a spoon, creates the world's best Italian food. That special someone who's kitchen overflows with stories of living le dolce vita, with humour only an auntie can pull off, with shared giggles, with enviable wisdom and with mouthwatering aromas that make you want to stay put for days. Mamma mia!
But, alas. Instead I remain a most humble understudy to Marcella's delicious culinary prowess. Which brings me to last night. Well, late yesterday afternoon actually. I was having one of those, 'what to make for dinner' days, when into my email popped the latest e-newsletter from Saveur magazine (my fave!) with a link to The Steamy Kitchen, one of my favorite food blogs and recipes sources, with a link to a simple tomato sauce recipe of Marcella Hazan's. Eureka! I love it when stuff like that happens. Teeny tiny, delicious twists of fate.
In a nanosecond Monday night dinner was decided. No questions asked. I changed a couple of very little things from Marcella's tomato sauce recipe, I added a good schwack of freshly ground black pepper and a splash of water.
This tomato sauce is so simple, you might shrug your shoulders and want to keep on looking. No! I insist! STOP in the name of love! This is what it's all about. Basic, quality ingredients, lovingly combined and easily prepared.
Dinner last night was absurdly delicious in it's simplicity. Slightly undercooked mezze linguine tossed with my secret auntie's tomato sauce and a bit of grated Parmigiano Reggiano. Delizioso!
I topped that deliciousness off with just-picked, still-warm-from-the-sun, sliced, juicy, white peaches, sprinkled with a tich of berry sugar. Life is good. Grazie, grazie Zia Marcella! Cin cin!
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Here we go..................Plop the whole can of San Marzano tomatoes into a medium pot and mash this way and that with a potato masher to break up the tomatoes a bit. Add butter, peeled and halved onion, freshly ground pepper, about 1/4 cup water and bring to a gentle boil.
Remove the onion, sprinkle with sea salt and pepper and serve separately to go along with your pasta, or not. My husband Cliff couldn't resist toppling half of the fragrantly soft onion into his pasta bowl. Me, I went less adorned, wanting to taste every nuance of this simple tomato sauce and the creamy bite of the Parm.
MY MARCELLA'S TOMATO SAUCE
1 28-ounce can San Marzano tomatoes in their juices - do make that extra trip to the Italian deli to get yourself some San Marzanos.
Just under 1/2 cup butter (real butter! don't use margarine)
1 medium sweet onion, like Walla Walla or Vidalia, peeled and halved
1 big teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup water
Add tomatoes to medium saucepan and mash a few times, this way and that, with a potato masher. Add butter, halved onion, black pepper and water and bring to a gentle boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and simmer 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove onion. Toss sauce with just al dente spaghetti, tagliatelle, pappardelle or linguine. Top with some freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano and torn fresh basil leaves, if desired.
Jaden Hair from The Steamy Kitchen served her tomato saucey pasta with hot grilled Italian sausages. Yum-O! Next time!