COMFORT ME WITH BUCATINI

Tomato Butter Sauce with Bucatini | for the love of the south

Cooking in advance makes me feel secure, relaxed. As we know, life does not arrange itself according to our schedules. Yes, sometimes takeout is the answer, but I rest easy as my trusty sauce of solace is there for me, like the most loyal of friends. There’s comfort in knowing all that’s left to dinner is to boil pasta, reheat this sauce from either the fridge or the freezer and a deep dish of pleasurable pasta awaits. 

This recipe is by the Grande Dame of Italian cooking herself, Marcella Hazan. If you love Italian cooking, you must have her cookbook, Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. Her Tomato Sauce with Onion & Butter is one of the simplest pasta sauces, but what holds true in the kitchen holds true in life: the simplest things are the greatest. This recipe only has four ingredients, and the rule of thumb in cooking; the shorter the ingredient list, the higher quality of all the characters involved. Buy the best canned tomatoes and most wonderful butter you can get your hands on. I do have a habit of puréeing the tomatoes, but you can roughly chop or hand crush if you like. Add the tomatoes along with the butter, onion halves and salt to a pot. Simply place the saucepan on the stove and let it simmer away for 45 minutes or so. This sauce looks after itself, but you can give it a stir every so often to feel like you’re being a good guardian. You will know when the sauce is ready when the fat from the butter begins to pool at the top of the surface. The natural sweetness of the onion mellows the sharp acidity of the tomatoes. Butter adds a richness to the sauce and a wonderful stick-to-me-goodness when tossed with the pasta. It’s what I like to call a healthy relationship.

Simply adjust the salt to your taste, remove the onion, boil some pasta and dinner is just moments away. If you are making this sauce a day or two ahead, just stash it in the fridge, leaving the onion in the sauce and remove before reheating and tossing with pasta. I often make large batches of this sauce, portion into freezer bags, label and freeze so I can have a divine meal whenever I’m too tired or don’t have time to cook during the week but still desire to be comforted by a warm bowl of pasta with tomato sauce, which is often.

Swathed in the simplest velvety smooth tomato sauce and generously showered with Parmesan cheese, this pasta is best enjoyed with a loved one curled up in the deepest corner of the couch.

Comforting Tomato Butter Sauce with Bucatini

Serves 2 | Makes about 2½ cups tomato sauce 

The integrity of Marcella Hazan’s recipe is still very much intact. The original recipe allows for this sauce to coat 1 pound of pasta, but I find it’s perfect for 8 ounces of dried pasta served between two greedy individuals who love tomato sauce. Also, I’m using bucatini, but you can use your favorite pasta shape: angel hair, spaghetti, penne, rigatoni. In the words of Cole Porter, anything goes!

1, 28-ounce canned tomatoes, puréed or hand crushed

4 tablespoons unsalted butter 

1 medium yellow onion, peeled, halved 

Kosher salt 

8 ounces dried bucatini 

Parmesan cheese, for serving 

Simply toss the tomatoes, butter and onion in a saucepan over medium low heat. Season with salt and bring to a steady simmer. Allow the sauce to simmer for 45 minutes. Stir occasionally, making sure to scrape the sides of the pot. Adjust the seasoning and remove the onion.  

Boil the pasta according to the package instructions, drain and toss the pasta into the hot sauce. Keep tossing until every strand is well coated. Serve among two warm bowls and scatter with Parmesan cheese.