Tomato Plus Two Sauce Recipe
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Tomato Plus Two (sauces 1 pound of dry pasta)

The late, great Italian cook Marcella Hazan had one of the simplest, best tomato sauces in history: Melt a bunch of butter; set half an onion in the butter; and cook a can of tomatoes in that. The lesson: If you have great tomatoes and two other very flavorful ingredients, they'll all shine without getting in each other's way. (Also: Butter is delicious.) So, here's a basic sauce you can transform with just two more ingredients – one in the beginning to infuse into the sauce, and one tossed in at the end for a fresh pop of flavor. Be sure to buy the best tomatoes you can – Italian ones labeled "San Marzano" are reliably great.

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil or butter
  • 1 28-oz can of the best whole tomatoes you can get, chopped, juice saved
  • Salt

And:

A) 6 oz bacon, ham, or salami, diced (if using bacon, skip the oil or butter)

B) 1 cup caramelized onions

or

A) 2 tsp fennel seeds

B) 2 tsp orange zest

or

A) 6 anchovy fillets

B) ½ cup olives, pitted and roughly chopped

or

A) 2 tbsp fresh minced ginger

B) ¾ cup thinly sliced scallions

Preparation

Step One
Heat the oil or butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat, and add the "ingredient A" of your choice. (No one will fault you for adding an onion or a few chopped cloves of garlic.) When it smells insanely good, add the tomatoes, their juice, and a few generous pinches of salt. Bring to a boil and turn the heat down to a gentle, lazy bubble.

Step Two
Simmer for 45 minutes, until the sauce is thickened and a few drops of fat start to float back to the top. Stir in "ingredient B" and toss with pasta. Serve right away, with grated cheese if you'd like.