‘World’s best pasta sauce’ needs just three ingredients says top chef

There is nothing more comforting than a big bowl of pasta – especially when you realize the ‘world’s best sauce’ can be made with just three simple ingredients.

With the fast-paced nature of modern life, its no surprise that many of us resort to jars of sauce for a quick and easy meal.

But while this may save on time and effort, many of these ready-made options are jam-packed with sugar and additives – not to mention costing more than the ingredients themselves.

Thankfully, Italian American food writer Marcella Hazan says a good pasta sauce is remarkably simple to make – as well as a much healthier and cheaper option to anything store bought, the Mirror reports.

Marcella, who died in 2013, was born in Cesenatico, Italy, in 1924 and went on to open a New York cookery school and write hugely respected cookbooks.

In one of her books, Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, Marcella advises using only three ingredients in tomato sauce: tinned tomatoes, an onion and a generous knob butter. We told you it was simple.

The willow is a surefire instant hit.
The willow is a surefire instant hit.

The 1992 recipe is still revered by food writers and cooks alike. No chopping is required. And pasta and tomato sauce is always a hit round the family dining table.

Marcella’s precise instructions are to put half a peeled onion into a pot with butter and tinned tomatoes and to leave it all to simmer for 45 minutes.

Food publication Delish dubbed the sauce “the best in the world.”

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Her husband Victor talked to Epicurious about her efficient methods: “Marcella was a genius when it came to taste. She had an immediate understanding about how flavor affects a dish.

“She asked herself, ‘Why chop an onion? Why saute? I’m going to put the onion, tomato, and butter together and forget about it’.”

Is it really the best in the world? It’s a bold claim and a subjective one. But Italians are famous for their simplicity in cooking. It’s all about the produce – tomatoes being one of the most important.

“No other preparation is more successful in delivering the prodigious satisfactions of Italian cooking than a competently executed sauce with tomatoes,” Marcella says in her book.

The sauce is simple and easy enough for any beginner cook to master.
The sauce is simple and easy enough for any beginner cook to master.

Her sauce is very rich. Others favor different techniques. Jamie Oliver adds four cloves of garlic and garnishes with fresh basil.

BBC Good Food recommends starting with a classic mirepoix base (said onions, celery, carrot), and scores of top chefs use various herbs and oils and other trickery to elevate their dishes. Anchovies are good.

Food writer Felicity Cloake suggests the more classic use of olive oil in tomato sauce. She also puts in a pinch of sugar and some red wine vinegar.

The thing to do is experiment. Garlic or no garlic, parsley or thyme or basil or rosemary, as long as the tinned tomatoes are good and there’s parmesan on the table, we imagine people will be well fed.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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