Friday, January 16, 2009

the fruits of lethargy

Normally I love spending time in the kitchen, but there is a very firm variable that always determines just how much time I spend in the kitchen. It's an inverse proportion: the more dishes are in the sink, the less I want to see them, therefore the less time I want to spend at the stove.

This tomato sauce recipe is one that I turn to often on the days when there are more pots and pans and utensils and plates and glasses and oh my god, I can't even finish that sentence because right now there are more dishes in the sink than are in the cupboard that holds them.

So, this tomato sauce? It's low-stress. I think I first saw it on Orangette, who I think in turn got it from Marcella Hazan. It might be the only tomato sauce I ever make for the rest of my life, because the recipe is as follows:

1. Take a 28 ox. can of whole plum tomatoes, open it, and put it in a large frying pans with fairly high sides. Turn the heat onto medium.

2. Peel and trim a small yellow onion, cut in half, and add to the tomatoes.

3. Add half a stick of butter. Smush the tomatoes with a wooden spoon, bring the whole thing to a lively simmer, then turn the heat to low and let it alone for forty-five minutes, smushing and stirring from time to time. Discard the onion and salt to taste.

And this sauce? It's wonderful. I don't know if it's the low steady heat concentrating and sweetening the taste of the tomatoes, or if it's the silky dairy quality of the butter, or maybe it's the fact that you don't chop the onion and so it's milder than usual, imparting just enough of its translucent savory flavor without any sharpness. All I know is that when I serve this, Camden and I don't really have to do dishes because we've licked the plates sparkling clean.

Just kidding, we totally do the dishes. Because that would be gross.


A few more notes: I made a double batch of sauce this time, which provided enough liquid to cook the whole wheat spaghetti right in the sauce. Even less dishes! Hooray! Also, I can't help myself and always add a couple crushed cloves of garlic at the same time as the onions, and then when the sauce and the pasta finished I minced some parsley, mixed it with some lemon zest, lemon juice, and freshly ground black pepper, and sprinkled the lot over the pasta along with a fluffy pile of grated parmesan.