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My go-to recipe for a simple tomato sauce is Marcella Hazan’s. With only 3 ingredients (plus some salt) and 3 steps, it’s the easiest sauce I know:

One 28-ounce can of whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes, crushed, along with their juices
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 onion, peeled and cut in half length-wise, so the root end keeps the layers together
Salt

1. In a heavy bottomed, non-reactive sauce pan, combine the tomatoes and their juices, the butter, and the onion. Add salt too taste.

2. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, and then reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Cook uncovered for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally and mashing any large pieces of tomatoes with your spoon.

3. Discard the onion; adjust for salt.

You can search the internet for more versions of this recipe, like this one from the New York Times Cooking site.

Hazan’s recipe makes enough sauce for a pound of pasta. Given that I’m usually cooking for two, I often have a half portion of it on hand. Such was the case last night, when after a weekend of red-meat indulgence, I decided to make one of my favorite meatless dishes: penne with tomato and goat-cheese sauce.

Penne with Tomato and Goat-Cheese Sauce

Ingredients
1/2 portion of Marcella Hazan’s tomato onion sauce
2.5 ounces goat cheese or chèvre
1/4 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes
8 ounces penne rigate, or any short cut pasta
Freshly ground black pepper
Parmigiano-Reggiano for serving

1. In a large skillet slowly bring the tomato sauce to a simmer. When the sauce is warmed through, crumble the cheese into the sauce and still until well blended. Add the crushed red pepper. Be careful not to overdo the pepper flakes, which can overwhelm the flavor of the cheese.

2. Meanwhile, cook the pasta until one minute before al dente (about 9 minutes). When the pasta is done, drain well and add it to the skillet with the sauce. Toss with sauce over low heat and allow the pasta to finish cooking, about 1 minute.

Tossing the pasta with the sauce

Tossing the pasta with the sauce

Before serving, sprinkle with some ground black pepper and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Wine Pairing: Rosso di Montalcino

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