Red velvet tomato and butter pasta sauce

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This is one of the easiest and most delicious pasta sauces out there – an idiot can make it! All you do is open a can of tomatoes, chuck it in a saucepan with a halved onion and a couple of big lumps of butter, then simmer it for 30 minutes. Then whiz it up with a stick blender and voilà – it’s like eating buttery, tomato-ey velvet. It has a mild flavour and is almost fruity. It doesn’t need anything else like garlic or herbs – it is really ‘pure’ tasting without being bland.

I believe the recipe originated from Marcella Hazan, but I’d only heard it second hand from my husband who introduced me to it, and I’ve tweaked it around a little, as I blend up the onion into the sauce at the end, whereas she discards hers. I think chucking the onion out is a bit of a waste.

It makes enough sauce for 3 – 4 decent adult portions of pasta, depending on how thinly or generously you like to distribute the sauce.

You will need:

1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes (use the best you can afford, I like Napolina or Cirio, which I only buy on special offer because they cost the equivalent of GOLD)
1 medium onion, halved
25g salted butter (about 6 tablespoons)
Salt and pepper to taste

Put everything into a small saucepan and bring to a simmer so that the butter melts and everything is bubbling away nicely. Turn the heat to low and leave it to simmer with the lid half on for about 30 minutes, checking every so often that nothing is sticking to the bottom. The onion should be well cooked through and the tomatoes will reduce. When everything has cooled down a little, whiz it all together* so that it’s creamy. Season to taste. Serve on pasta with lashings of Parmesan, perhaps some chopped basil or oregano sprinkled on top. Heaven in a bowl.

You can also freeze the sauce for several months. I also sneak it into my kids without too much bother. I love this sauce so much I could drink it as a savoury smoothie. But then I’d have a hot, tomato-ey, butter face.

*So, uh, I thought I’d save time by whacking the tomato and onion mixture in our Nutribullet blender when it was still scalding hot. Don’t do this EVER- the heat from the sauce created a vacuum, which made the whole thing impossible to unscrew without force, whereupon the airlock ‘released’ itself with an explosive bang, causing me to scream and my youngest to start crying. A close shave indeed, and I was rewarded with a slew of bright tomato sauce all over my jumper! What was I saying, that this recipe was idiot-proof? Ignore me.


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