The Revealing, Secret Diaries of a Not-So-Secret Foodie

Marcella Hazen’s “The Sauce”

My next recipe selection is a simple sauce.  This sauce is amazing. Not only in it’s simplicity but in the complexity of flavor from only four ingredients. I was skeptical. How can a sauce taste good with absolutely no garlic? No oregano and no cooking all day over a low flame?  But it is. Simple & Wonderful. And Easy to pull together for your hungry crew.

Marcella Hazen’s “The Sauce” found in the New York Times


1 28-ounce can San Marzano Tomatoes (Do not go cheap here. These will be about 3.50 to 4.99 per can)

1 Onion. Peeled and cut in half (I like Sweet Vidalia but Spanish or yellow will also work well)

1 tsp salt

5 tablespoons butter (use Real Butter)

Melt butter and place two halves of onion cut side down in melted butter. Cook for minute or so. Pour canned tomatoes into pan. Stir. Next add 1 teaspoon salt. Stir & simmer over low flame for about 45-50 minutes. Remove onions. Discard them or eat, your choice.

Sauce is enough for one pound of pasta.  If sauce gets too thick, thin with 1/2 cup of chicken stock. We like to serve over Bucatini. Top with chopped fresh Basil and grated Parmigiano Reggiano. And be prepared to be WOW-ed.

Cookbooks on my Shelf
   Marcella's Italian Kitchen by Marcella Hazen

The paperback edition of Marcella’s Italian Kitchen was gifted to me over twenty years ago. It was a thank you gift from a student who was doing a rotation through the research lab where I was working at the time.

I remember a day when I met her ten year old son.  Sick and unable to attend school he accompanied his mom to the hospital.  I offered to look after him while she attended a biochemistry lecture.  One she couldn’t miss. Unexpectedly, I had an assistant.

For an hour or so we had fun viewing slides under the microscope. While his mom scribbled notes on the chemical processes of life, with a little light and a lot of magnification, he and I looked at cells where it was all taking place.

She returned grateful.  I was in my twenties at the time.  Not yet a wife, nor mother.   She was both.  And a first year medical student in her early forties attending a most prestigious school. She had been an artist.  Later I learned a close friend’s sickness and death had inspired her to enter a new career late in life.

At the time I did not fully appreciate the tenacity of her calling or the significance her gift. The cookbook sat forgotten for almost two decades. But thankfully while organizing I ran across it again.  Making me recall Susan and her son, Noah, and their story.

I found my middle-aged self inspired by her.  Hopeful that she accomplished what she set out to do. And more than ever was reminded that the pursuit of dreams is what makes a life.  Dreams do not expire.  Nor are they reserved for youth.  Sometimes it’s the journey that forges character. And brings a new story into being.


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