Elena’s Easiest Pasta Sauce Ever
Elena, demonstrating the joys of starch and butter.
To create the jewelry for her line TOMTOM, Elena Coleman Howell employs high-tech design programs, 3-D printers, and water jets that cut through metal. But at the end of the day, Elena takes comfort in Italian food—the making of which is more of an art than a science. “I am an unabashed Italophile. I studied Italian language for two years in college—so I know enough to get by after two glasses of wine,” she says. “I love pasta. When the South Beach Diet came out, I told everyone I was on the North Beach Diet: All carbs, all the time.” Here’s the sauce she makes—from her bible, Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcela Hazan—that pairs especially well with architectural tortellini, made on a Marcato Atlas pasta maker.
Tomato Sauce with Onion and Butter
2 pounds fresh, ripe tomatoes* or 2 cups canned imported Italian plum tomatoes, cut up, with their juices
5 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, peeled and cut in half
1 to 1 ½ pounds pasta
Freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese for the table
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 45 minutes, or until the fat floats free from the tomato. Stir from time to time, mashing any large piece of tomato in the pan with the back of a wooden spoon. Taste and correct for salt. Discard the onion before tossing the sauce with the pasta.
*If using fresh tomatoes, blanch first by plunging 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 chunks.