Simple Genius

I'm a skeptic when it comes to super simple recipes.

Wait, what do you mean I don't have to open 5 spice jars and chiffonade a bundle of basil? You mean I don't have to chop a dozen onions, grate a pound of carrots, and roast something for two hours? The resounding answer is YES.

Sometimes a good recipe takes 3 ingredients and a little bit of time, like what I made tonight. I saw this on HEAB's blog today, and immediately clicked the link and discovered I only needed one thing to make this for dinner. What is this glorious thing? A simple tomato sauce as posted by Smitten Kitchen and adapted from Marcela Hazan. When I saw Marcela's name attached to this recipe, I knew it had to be good. She's never let me down!

The recipe:

Tomato Sauce with Butter and Onions
Adapted from Marcela Hazan’s
Essentials of Italian Cooking

28 ounces (800 grams) whole peeled tomatoes from a can
5 tablespoons (70 grams) unsalted butter
1 medium-sized yellow onion, peeled and halved
Salt to taste

Put the tomatoes, onion and butter in a heavy saucepan (it fit just right in a 3-quart) over medium heat. Bring the sauce to a simmer then lower the heat to keep the sauce at a slow, steady simmer for about 45 minutes, or until droplets of fat float free of the tomatoes. Stir occasionally, crushing the tomatoes against the side of the pot with a wooden spoon. Remove from heat, discard the onion, add salt to taste and keep warm while you prepare your pasta.

That's it. I served mine atop half a roasted spaghetti squash, scooped out, and some sauteed mushrooms with a link of leftover sausage from last night. Please excuse the multitude of photos, as I was having fun with the new camera!

IMG_5756 IMG_5757 IMG_5759
This was comfort food at its finest, and would've been great eaten with a spoon rather than on anything. There's something delicate and yet still rich about this sauce, and I really can't put my finger on it, but Julia Child was right: there's something about butter!

Don't forget to enter to win the amazing Organic Coconut Peanut Butter with a comment on yesterday's post! Winner will be announced tomorrow night.

I wanted, also, to thank you all for your compliments on my openness and honesty with my "Ask Me Anything" questions. While there may be times I'll post something cheery when I'm feeling anything but, 99% of the time, what you get on here is all me. I'm lucky enough to have truly supportive readers, and I'm grateful every day that I don't have to field cruel comments... but if that day ever comes, you can rest assured that those commenters will be taken care of. Years of teaching have helped me grow a much thicker skin than I ever thought I'd have! So thank you all for reading, commenting, and supporting this little blog of mine.

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21 Responses to Simple Genius

  1. shelly says:

    I am looking into buying a camera… how did you decide which one to buy?

    • I did a bit of research and found that there were really two classes of dSLRs out there: affordable and SUPER expensive. I stuck my research then to the affordable ones, and found that the canon I got (EOS Rebel XSi) was the highest rated overall on CNet among cameras in its price class. So far, I’m thrilled with the pictures it takes, and the learning is just beginning! I’m devoting some time this weekend to really learn how to work the thing.

  2. Lauren says:

    OMG I do the same thing!! I always forgot how good simple can be. Like just a plain and simple pasta with sauce. Amazing! Why do I always forget about this?!?!

    I am counting down the days until you pick a winner for your giveaway. Keeping all of my fingers and toes crossed. I want this one so bad!! 🙂
    .-= Lauren´s last blog .."Ya tebya liubliu" =-.

  3. Mary says:

    I just made spag squash with marinara last night 😀 Great minds think alike ?

  4. Holy YUM!
    I saw that sauce on HEAB, but it looks even better now.
    Hahahaha, nom nom.
    Brazilian XOXO´s,
    .-= Gabriela (froyolover)´s last blog ..What Women Want =-.

  5. I made this last week! I hope you don’t think I’m a total copycat when I post not one but TWO of the same recipes as you. God. Great minds, indeed.
    .-= Wiggs (The Beholder)´s last blog ..Save the cake =-.

  6. Tyler says:

    i saw that sauce on HEAB’s blog this morning, too! i love your addition of the mushrooms. looks delicious!
    .-= Tyler´s last blog ..40 Days and 40 Nights =-.

  7. Jackie says:

    I saw this recipe not long ago on Smitten Kitchen too. Her food pics are also amazing, and she has some tips here:

    Also- i’m not sure if you use photoshop or anything like that. But I’ve been using this GREAT, free online website for very basic photo manipulations. (i dont have photoshop) Just pick a photo and start playing around with it (cropping, color, exposure, brightness, contrast, sharpness, etc) to see how easy it is to modify it in various ways. It also has an “autofix” button, which often times (but not always) gives great and simple results with one click. The difference in photos is light and day. For example, here’s a pic I took w/out any modifications: And here’s the same picture after a few simple modifications in picnik. (It’s still far from perfect, but with my point and shoot and lighting at my place it’s not horrible)


    • Jackie says:

      hmmmm, i DO have a mac 😉 Photoshop sounds very temping…

      And a guest post- that would be so much fun!! You know, it’s been a long time since I’ve actually decorated something. (I’ve just been doing more cooking/baking these days). Wanna give me an idea/theme?? Then I’ll run with it, come up with something and make a new post for your blog.
      .-= Jackie´s last blog ..Buttah! =-.

  8. Simple recipes are the best! I think the most trouble I go through when creating new recipes for PGEW is getting my spice & herb combos on. Otherwise, it’s all ridiculously easy stuff!
    .-= Kimberly @ Poor Girl Eats Well´s last blog ..Giveaway: Good food is sexy; soft hands whilst cooking are even sexier! =-.

  9. Hello food porn. Your pictures are gorgeous Mara! What kind of camera did you get? Never mind, just read through the comments. A Canon EOS Rebel XSi, huh? Too bad Christmas is 10 months away! 😉

    So happy you liked the sauce. Loved the addition of mushrooms and sausage, and yes, Julia was spot on…There’s definitely something about butter. 🙂
    .-= Heather McD (Heather Eats Almond Butter)´s last blog ..So Simple, Yet So Good =-.

  10. That sauce sounds terrific. I haven’t had it in awhile, but my mom used to reheat leftover pasta + sauce with butter in a frying pan, SO good.

    I’ve seen a few chefs say that the best ones use minimal ingredients and I tend to agree. Mile-long recipes drive me nuts unless I am spontaneously adding things in as I go along lol.

    I’m happy to have a kind and supportive audience too, but recently some trolls came out from beneath their rocks and I have to enable comment moderation. Sigh, so annoying. 😛


  11. Kelly says:

    Mushrooms…I love thee!
    .-= Kelly´s last blog ..All Business Thursday! =-.

  12. I don’t want to swear on your beautiful blog, but…HOLY *&^%! That sauce looks to die for. You’re right, so simple, but butter does give everything such a creamy richness. I made spaghetti squash last night with meatballs, but now I feel like I should have it again with this sauce tonight!
    Thanks for the recipe and review!
    .-= Andrea @´s last blog ..Pork Chops with Brown Sugar-Cinnamon Apple Relish =-.

  13. K says:

    I am so thankful that I don’t receive negative comments either. You’re right though, teaching forces you to get a thick skin!! LOVE the looks of that sauce – how easy is that?! 🙂
    .-= K´s last blog ..Ghetto Superstar =-.

  14. Biz says:

    Yep, butter makes everything better! I actually got Marcela Hazan’s books from my library and ended up buying one to keep – love it!
    .-= Biz´s last blog ..Fat Wednesday =-.

  15. Danetta says:

    I rarely ever comment but read you every day. Love your blog and your willingness to be yourself. Can’t wait to try this sauce! I have never made spaghetti squash but should give it a try.

  16. Gena says:

    Don’t apologize for the photos! Looks totally awesome 🙂

  17. fartygirl says:

    I saw this recipe on HEABs a few days ago and have been thinking about it… But traveled over here after your funny comment on the Lenten post. I totally did not realize that YOU were the one who originally posted about the butter and onions and tomato sauce recipe!

    Now, obviously, I must make this. It’s in the stars! 🙂
    .-= fartygirl´s last blog ..Fake Shit =-.

  18. Amy says:

    I love spaghetti squash! and I often make one and “binge” on it with amatriciana sauce that too has butter in it. SO GOOD!!

    Somehow I’m not getting your posts so am back logged in my reading!!
    Amy´s last blog post ..Figs Glorious Figs

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