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Course Main Course


  • 2 pounds (900g) fresh, ripe tomatoes, prepared as described at right, or 2 cups (480g) canned imported Italian tomatoes, cut up, with their juice
  • 5 tablespoons (70g) butter
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and cut in half
  • Salt
  • 1 to 11⁄2 pounds (450 to 680g) pasta, cooked, for serving
  • Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for serving


  • Put either the prepared fresh tomatoes or the canned in a saucepan; add the butter, onion, and salt; and cook, uncovered, at a very slow, but steady simmer for about 45 minutes, or until it is thickened to your liking and the fat floats free from the tomato. Stir from time to time, mashing up any large pieces of tomato with the back of a wooden spoon.
  • Taste and correct for salt. Discard the onion before tossing with pasta. Serve with freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese for the table.


There are three ways to make fresh tomatoes ready for sauce, all of which use ripe plum tomatoes (or other varieties, if they are equally ripe and truly fruity, not watery).
For the blanching method: Plunge the tomatoes in boiling water for a minute or less. Drain them and, as soon as they are cool enough to handle, skin them and cut them into coarse pieces.
The freezing method (from David Tanis via The Kitchn): Freeze the tomatoes on a baking sheet until hard. Thaw again, either on a rimmed plate on the counter or under running water. Skin them and cut them into coarse pieces.
And lastly, the food mill method: Wash the tomatoes in cold water, cut them lengthwise in half, and put them in a covered saucepan. Turn on the heat to medium and cook for 10 minutes. Set a food mill fitted with the disk with the largest holes over a bowl. Transfer the tomatoes with any of their juices to the mill and puree.