There are tomato sauces and then there is this tomato sauce that I’m sharing with you today. Maybe you’ve heard about it? It’s Marcella Hazan’s tomato sauce – you know, the one that has only four ingredients: tomatoes, onion, butter, and salt. There’s no chopping, peeling, roasting of anything – it’s just a 28 ounce can of San Marzano whole plum tomatoes, a white onion cut in half, five tablespoons of butter, and a pinch of salt.
It seems weird, but you just squish the tomatoes and add them to the pot with the onion and butter. Let it simmer for 45 minutes and then remove the onion – at this point you can puree it with a stick blender (what I did) or serve it as is (be sure to season to taste with salt). That’s it – so easy.
I found this recipe while perusing Adam Robert’s blog, The Amateur Gourmet, a few weeks ago. At the time I was a little depressed having mistakenly believed that he was quitting his blog, so I spent some quality time digging into his archives in search of some gems that I might have missed over the years . That’s how I learned about this amazingly simple and flavorful tomato sauce. Don’t let its simplicity fool you — something truly magical happens while it simmers and you are left with a sauce so flavorful you won’t believe all it took was four ingredients. It’s perfect just tossed with some pasta, but I took it a step further and made some stuffed shells…
Is there anything better than jumbo pasta shells stuffed with ricotta, mozzarella, and romano cheese? Pour all that wonderful tomato sauce over the top and you got yourself a very decadent and tasty dinner on your hands. It will make the people happy.
Cheesy baked shells with Marcella Hazan's incredibly simple and flavorful tomato sauce.
45 minPrep Time
35 minCook Time
1 hr, 20 Total Time
- 1 (28) ounce can whole plum tomatoes, preferably San Marzano
- 1 yellow onion, peeled and halved
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 16 jumbo pasta shells
- 1 (15 ounce) container ricotta cheese
- 1 cup mozzeralla cheese, shredded
- 1/2 cup romano cheese, shredded
- Pinch of fresh groung nutmeg
- 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- salt & pepper
- Place the tomatoes (with the juices), onion halves, and butter in a medium sized pan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Break the tomatoes apart with a wooden spoon and let it all lightly simmer for at least 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- While the sauce is cooking, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the shells and boil them for 9-10 minutes. You want them very al dente - they will finish cooking in the oven.
- While the pasta is boiling, prepare the filling by combining the cheese, nutmeg, parsley, and egg in a medium sized bowl. Season with a pinch of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper.
- Drain the shells and place them on a sheet pan to keep them from sticking to each other.
- Remove the onion from the sauce and discard. If you want a smooth sauce use an immersion blender to puree the sauce. Coat the bottom of a baking dish (I used a 9 inch glass pie pan) with about 1/2 of the sauce.
- Fill each shell with 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons of the filling. Place in the baking dish. Pour the remaining sauce over the top.
- Cover the baking dish with tin foil and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove the tin foil and bake an additional 5 minutes. Let stand a couple of minutes before serving.