I’ve had Marcella Hazan’s three-ingredient tomato sauce bookmarked for a while and, over the last several months, I’ve seen it popping up everywhere. Websites, blogs, even in a sale flier I received from a natural foods store. I figured it was time to check it out for myself. Still, I was dubious. No herbs or spices? No garlic, basil or oregano? Seriously?

Still, Marcella Hazan is/was an absolute authority on the subject of Italian cookery. Who am I to question that? I had a 28 ounce can of Cento San Marzano tomatoes, butter, a Vidalia onion and a pound of dry linguine, Add to that list a package of Scimeca’s hot Italian sausage to serve on the side. It is also included in Food52’s Genius Recipes, which I have been working my way through. Game on.

Marcella Hazan's Tomato Sauce

Marcella Hazan’s Tomato Sauce

Oh, Marcella. I shouldn’t have doubted you so.

We tucked into the pasta with no expectations. We both agreed it was good but maybe not exceptional. And then… we both had second and third servings. We. Could. Not. Stop. Eating. It. Served with generous shavings of asiago cheese, the sauce was simple but full of excellent tomato flavor. I fully expected it to lack dimension but it was anything but single noted.

Recipe: Marcella Hazan's Tomato Sauce
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
This is a slight variation on the original recipe, based on what I had on hand. I'd encourage you to do the same. This can also be made with fresh blanched and peeled tomatoes. This recipe is enough to lightly dress one pound of pasta. I cooked the pasta to about 90% done and then finished it in the saucepan with the sauce.
Recipe type: Sauces
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: Enough sauce for 1 pound of pasta
  • 28 ounce can of Cento San Marzano tomatoes (I got mine at Trader Joe's.)
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium Vidalia onion, peeled and cut in half
  • Salt to taste, optional
  • Freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese, optional
  1. Put the tomatoes in a saucepan with the butter and onion. Add salt, if desired. Cook uncovered at a slow simmer for approximately 45 minutes or until the fat floats free from the tomato. Check and stir every ten minutes or so, mashing up large chunks of tomato with a spoon.
  2. Taste and correct for salt.
  3. Remove the onion and toss with 1 pound of cooked pasta. Serve with freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese on the table.