For a late lunch this afternoon, we decided to make Marcella Hazan’s famous Tomato Sauce with Onion and Butter. This comes out of the Italian cookbook recommendation I made last week and can be found on page 152. It’s not what you think of when you conjure up visions of a traditional marina sauce for spaghetti so be careful not to compare the two; they are different, though I am so fond of this incarnation that I find it hard to desire anything else. If you prefer heavier sauces, this might not be your cup of tea. You will never know until you try it.
Adding to the appeal: The tomato sauce with onion and butter recipe is another example of a food that costs next to nothing, just like the leek and potato soup from a few days ago.
Here is the breakdown from my local grocery store:
- Two pounds of tomatoes cost $1.98
- A one pound yellow onion costs $1.68
- Five tablespoons of butter costs $0.47
- A pinch of salt costs $0.02
- A package of penne pasta costs: $1.29
- Total raw ingredient price before sales tax: $5.44
- Sales tax in my state: $0.26
- Grand Total: $5.70 raw ingredient cost
To put that into perspective, consider that for someone who was earning a living through a low-wage retail job, it would take around $7.00 in pre-tax earnings to pay for a dinner made up of Marcella Hazan’s Tomato Sauce with Onion and Butter. This would be less than an hour of paycheck to put food on the table for yourself, a spouse, and at least one child. If you had a side dish, such as a fresh loaf of rosemary, garlic, and lavender bread, you could stretch it much further and feed more people good-sized portions.
Not only that, but like many of the recipes in Hazan’s Italian cookbook, it’s easy. The entire dish takes around ten minutes of prep time, then you let it simmer in a sauce pan for 45 minutes as the sauce concentrates. Meanwhile, you boil some pasta on the side. You could be working, reading, watching television, or doing the laundry as dinner made itself, filling your home with the scent of amazing home cooked Italian food.
The final benefit? The tomato sauce has no preservatives. There is not a lot of excess sodium. It’s actual food rather than foodstuffs. That is becoming increasingly rare in this world. You can cook it in batches and keep it frozen for future use to save time, reheating it for quick meals.
Marcella Hazan’s classic dish from Italy is clean and refreshing, with the enrichment from the butter adding a nice addition to the tomato sauce. It would also be good cold served salad-style in chilled bowls during the summer. It reminded me of this bow tie basil pasta recipe from several years ago. We haven’t had that in awhile. I should bring that back to the site.