It might not always look this way, but I’m a fan of simple. It’s not my dearest dream to stand in my kitchen, meticulously arranging cheese curds, though (obviously) I will do so if need be. My penchant for intensive cooking, however, doesn’t preclude my appreciation for throwing a bunch of food in a pot and letting magic happen on its own.
This is why I am such a convert to this really…REALLY…simple, beautiful tomato sauce. George and I were making eggplant tonight, and neither of us necessarily wanted to make an elaborate sauce, partly because the eggplant is so good you don’t want to eclipse it and partly because…just…didn’t…want…to. And so, three ingredients (plus salt & pepper to taste), and about 45 minutes, and you’ve got a pot of amazing tomato sauce.
Here’s the ingredients:
One big can of tomatoes. One medium-ish onion. Five (yes, five) pats of butter. Don’t chop the onion, just halve it or (if you’re feeling crazy and adventurous), quarter it, like I did. Be generous with the pepper and pay attention to the salt content of your ingredients, as I could imagine this could cross the line quite easily and become way too salty. Anyway. Everybody in the pool!
Let it come to a pretty good simmer for a few minutes (never a boil), and then drop the heat so it cooks at a nice, slow, burbling, glopping simmer, for 45 minutes. I checked the seasonings once about half-way through and added some more black pepper, and you want to crush the tomatoes with the back of the spoon and pull out the onion at the end of the 45 minute simmer, but that’s it. Resist the temptation to add garlic, or thyme, or some pepper flakes. Those would indeed be delicious additions, but the point of this sauce is to celebrate the alchemy that happens when three ingredients are brought together in harmonious proportion.
This ain’t just for eggplant, people. It would be great on top of your pasta, too; it should cover about a pound pretty easily.
I’ll fess up, this sauce doesn’t look like much for the first twenty, twenty-five minutes or so. The onions haven’t started to release their oniony goodness into the tomatoes. The butter hasn’t incorporated into the body of the sauce, so it’s just…kind of…buttery. But then it all starts to work. The onions give of themselves unto the tomatoes, the butter begins to integrate, the tomatoes break down and start to thicken the entire mix. When it’s ready, you’ll find you have a sauce that is unbelievably good. It is delicate and sweet and rich and velvety. If you want to know how to make tomatoes exquisite comfort food, this is how.
Oh, yeah…did I mention we had eggplant?