But when winter's doldrums descend, I start to miss summer's bounty in earnest. I crave tomatoes and corn and berries; I yearn for bunches of peonies and dahlias, and I dream of ice cream and cold coffee. And while I've found frozen corn to be a decent, craving-sating substitute for its fresh counterpart, I've never been a huge fan of canned tomatoes. They've always seemed a bit cloying to me, somehow lacking in the earthy, muddy flavor that makes their fresh brethren so delicious.
Finally, though, I think I've found a reason to keep canned tomatoes in the pantry. Thanks to Smitten Kitchen's post about Marcela Hazan's simple, winter-friendly tomato sauce, I'm now prepared to invest in multiple cans of San Marzano tomatoes.
The recipe is the epitome of ease; you open the can of tomatoes and dump them into a three-quart pot along with the better part of a stick of butter and a halved onion. Turn the heat to medium, simmer for about an hour - and you're done. You should stir it every once in a while, and don't forget to use the back of your spoon to mush the increasingly tender tomatoes against the side - it's what passes for pureeing in this recipe.
I disagree with Deb on one point - I think the sauce profits a good deal from a modest sprinkling of Parmesan cheese; it adds to the creaminess already going on, and adds a funky note to things that really gets the party started.
Tomato Sauce with Butter and Onions
Adapted from Marcela Hazan’s Essentials of Italian Cooking
28 ounces whole peeled tomatoes from a can (San Marzano are the best!)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium-sized yellow onion, peeled and halved
Salt to taste
Put the tomatoes, onion and butter in a heavy, 3-quart saucepan over medium heat. Bring the sauce to a simmer then lower the heat to keep the sauce at a slow, steady simmer for 45 minutes to an hour, or until drops 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.Serves four.