Everything’s Better With Butter

Way back in 2007, a friend of mine mailed me a newspaper clipping with a recipe for fresh tomato sauce, knowing (from my blog) of my love of tomatoes and pasta and cooking, via this very blog. It was fun getting a recipe in the mail, but the butter scared me, so I never tried it. Since then, I found a very similar recipe on Smitten Kitchen, and was intrigued. But again, never tried it.

On Sunday, I went to our local farmers’ market, and picked up maybe 5 lbs of slightly overripe tomatoes. My favorite thing to do with overripe tomatoes is to make tomato sauce. My only problem with tomato sauce is that so many recipes actually work better with canned tomatoes, because they have more depth of flavor. So I paged through my newly organized recipe book (SO happy to have finally gotten control of that unwieldy beast) and came across the recipe sent to me lo, those many years ago. It’s not exactly the same as the one referenced on Smitten Kitchen, but I decided to stick with it, thinking that the fresh tomatoes in this recipe might call for a few differences from the canned tomato cousin, such as salt, sugar, and more butter.

The result? A truly silky and lush tomato sauce. I LOVED it. Ted and Maya seemed happy enough, they ate, they smiled, they made appropriate num num noises, but they didn’t seem as thrilled as I was. The good thing about being the one who does most of the cooking in the house? We’ll be having this again, maybe with canned tomatoes in the winter. I loved it with the fresh, though. There’s no link to the exact recipe I have, because I couldn’t find it online anymore. Bummer. Truly, esp. if you use canned, this is the easiest tomato sauce recipe you’ve ever tried, outside of opening a jar of Ragu. And SO much better.

Fresh Tomato Sauce

  • 2 lbs fresh tomatoes, peeled and seeded
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
  • 1 medium onion, halved
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • pinch of granulated sugar

Crush tomatoes with your hands as you add them to a medium saucepan (messy), adding juice as well. Add butter, onion, salt, and sugar. Cook at a slow but steady simmer, uncovered, until fat separates from the tomatoes and forms a thin layer on top of the sauce, about 45 minutes. Discard onion. Taste and add salt, if needed. Toss with pasta, and serve.

Points…I was afraid of too much butter, seeing as how my recipe was different from the original. Not to worry. It was amazing. Also, if you have fresh plum tomatoes, maybe it takes less time. If you have canned (Italian best) tomatoes, maybe it takes less time. But if you have whatever the overripe tomatoes are available at the Farmers’ Market, they may be more watery, and may take longer to get to the point of the fat separating from the rest of the sauce. Don’t rush it. The sauce was OK before this point, but having arrived at that point, and tossed with pasta, it was delicious. Lastly, to cheese or not to cheese. I believe it was Smitten Kitchen who said she adores cheese, but it doesn’t really belong here. She loves it with cheese, but loves it MORE without. I’m not sure I agree. I loved it both ways, but somehow, like butter makes everything better? So does a little Parmigiano-Reggiano. Later this winter, I’ll try to canned tomato version, with less butter, no salt, no sugar. But for now, late summer/early autumn? YUM.

This entry was posted in Recipes.

3 thoughts on “Everything’s Better With Butter

  1. Years ago I saw a recipe like this one using canned tomatoes– not fresh. Like you I was worried about too much butter, but when I made the sauce it was delicious. Truth is I’d forgotten all about this recipe, but I will make it sometime in the next few weeks to see if we think it is as good as we thought it was when I first made it. [Well, that was a fun little sentence, wasn’t it?]

  2. That sounds good and i also love making the sauce with ripe tomatoes. I switched to using real butter after quite a few years of substitutes to lower our cholesterol– except I began to realize I was getting heartburn after meals with that substitute. Not sure what was in it but olive oil and real butter don’t do it. Real butter is a lot more fun to cook with for sure.

  3. I’m always looking for new sauce recipes. A simple pasta dinner always seems much more important when made with homemade sauce. I’m vegan but I’m sure the vegan butter would work just as well. They’ve made great strides in improving those options in recent years. Thanks for sharing!

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