In Search of…the Perfect Pasta Sauce No 1

Butter & Tomato Sauce

A recent trip to the magnificent St John led to a visit to their website which in turn resulted in the purchase of a Fergus Henderson-endorsed cookbook called The Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan. It’s perfect bedtime reading and has an intriguing section on simple tomato-based sauces for pasta – with three ingredients this is the simplest of them all.

Preparation time: 5 – 10 minutes
Cooking time: 45 minutes
Skill level: easy
Serves: 2


  • tin of tomatoes – chopped – 400g
  • 1 medium onion – peeled and quartered
  • butter – 50g
  • salt
  • pasta – 200g
  • Parmesan

Place the chopped tomatoes, butter, onion halves and a little salt in a heavy frying pan, bring up to a boil and then simmer uncovered VERY gently for 45 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Meanwhile cook the pasta – spaghetti is ideal.

When the sauce is cooked remove and discard the onion, taste and add salt if necessary.

Add the pasta and stir everything together.

Divide between two dishes and serve with grated Parmesan.

Verdict: Rich, buttery, sweet and utterly delicious. Looks like we could have found the perfect sauce first attempt. Seriously, if you have a tin of tomatoes and 45 minutes to spare, give this a go.

Drink: Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi from Oddbins. Right posh – cost more than a 5er.

Entertainment: Just can’t get enough of The Shield.

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