Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >
Sep 2, 2012 02:34 PM

Your Favorite EASY Recipes

A few weeks ago Yahoo featured a recipe called "The Easiest (and Best) Tomato Sauce Recipe". It only had 3 ingredients! Well, of course I had to try that for myself, and since it was only 3 ingredients I had everything necessary on hand. So while I read the 805 reader's comments about the recipe, 801 from people who had never tried the recipe but were sure it was a joke and mercilessly bashed it, I put the Muir Glen Organic Diced Tomatoes (ATK's #! canned tomatoes) in a skillet, set a halved onion in, and added a stick of butter. That's it, 3 ingredients. For 45 minutes I occasionally went over and stirred it, using the back of a wooden spoon to mash the tomatoes.

As I waited to see the butter separate, which the recipe said is the indication that its done, I read all those comments about how this couldn't possibly be authentic Italian. It had no garlic, no oregano, it doesn't slow cook for hours, etc, etc.. Pages and pages from outraged doubters. And I agreed. I secretly didn't think there was any way this humble recipe would turn out other than bland, and I was already planning how I would doctor it with wine and garlic so that I could serve it for dinner.

By the time it was finished I was ready with garlic and fresh herbs to salvage the experiment. But just to be fair, I dipped a piece of bread in to taste. OMG.

I thought it was delicious! Sweet, savory, and rich - which you would expect with a stick of butter in it. It was all about the tomatoes.

At this point I should tell you that I am a Raos gal. I have shelves of jars of Raos. I have eaten at the restaurant (and yes, "you gotta know somebody"). I have made Raos actual recipe from Good Morning America including tracking down cans of the San Marzano tomatoes that Raos has flown in fresh daily to make their gravy. Really, I LOVE this stuff!

Well shut my mouth if this sauce wasn't rich and tomatoey and totally authentic tasting like you get in the San Marzano region of Italy. In fact, of the 1% of posters who actually knew this recipe, most of them said things like "Oh yeah, this is how my Nana who's from San Marzano makes her gravy. No fuss, just tomatoes onion and butter. In San Marzano its all about the tomatoes"

I never did doctor it. As instructed, I removed the onion and served it over pasta topped with fresh basil. It was delicious. In fact the next day I wanted it again for lunch. I had a near empty jar of Raos in the fridge so I did a taste comparison. I put Raos on one half of the pasta and this on the other. Anybody wanna buy 12 jars of Raos Marinara sauce?

I'm not saying its perfect for everyone because if you like garlic, or herbs or meat in your gravy, this would simply be an easy, rich tomatoey, 3 ingredient starting point. Did I mention easy?

Do you have a favorite EASY recipe?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Dinner in five minutes:
    Put enough olive oil in a pan to cover the bottom. When it's hot enough that you can see motion on its surface, pop in a nice fish filet that you've towel dried. Cook first side until golden brown, turn. Cook second side until golden brown, drop in a tablespoon or two of butter when the butter has melted and begun to brown, pour in a splash of white wine. Allow to cook another minute, plate. Top with fresh parsley or drizzle some of that amazing "Easiest (and Best) Tomato Sauce Recipe" over it.

    1 Reply
    1. re: todao

      I love that recipe. No tomato sauce needed.

    2. It is Marcella Hazan's Tomato Sauce with Onion and Butter which has been around for quite a while,and yes it is good! Sometimes I chop up the onion after the sauce is done and leave it in. Not much with a stick of butter in it which isn't good! LOL

      2 Replies
      1. re: Mother of four

        Yes, I dug this one up *after* coming back from Italy, to try and figure out how to make that delicious tomato sauce they served there. This was it. I do decrease the butter amount, though, and it still tastes good.

        I find traditional italian has a lot of really easy, few ingredient dishes that tastes amazing. This is one, another vegetable dish is green beans steamed, and dressed with olive oil, red wine vinegar or lemon juice, and salt and pepper, and served at room temperature. It's also good using asparagus, or broccoli among other vegetables.

        I made pork with milk last night. Take a chunk of pork with the fat trimmed off, brown it in a bit of oil in a pot that's not too big. Pour in milk (about 3 cups, which should be enough to just cover it). Simmer, partially covered, for 2 hours or more. Remove the meat, let the sauce boil down until thick, add about a tablespoon of lemon juice, cook until it's thick and clumpy. Slice the meat and serve with the milk sauce. It looks gross, but is amazingly good.

        1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

          I do this with chicken thighs all the time (plenty of pepper!), but don't do the lemon juice. I'll have to try that. Without, the sauce has a nice touch of sweetness; I can see the tang being good sometimes, too.

      2. Todao, Yum, that sounds good! And fast! Do you have a fish you prefer? And can you do more than one filet in the skillet at a time?

        And Mother of four, did Marcella Hazan create this recipe? I got the feeling from posters talking about how their Nanas had been making this for generations that this was a traditional sauce in the San Marzano region. But if this Marcella Hazan created this amazing recipe then I say we should erect a statue to her! I am truly crazy for this sauce.

        Just last week I had a houseguest who is also a foodie and while we were hanging out in the kitchen I said "Hey, I've got to show you something." I popped the 3 ingredients into a skillet and while we visited I tried to convince her that this was really going to be something special. Well, when she went home she invited a few friends over for dinner, just so she could serve it!

        Like you say M o f, "Not much with a stick of butter in it which isn't good!".

        BTW, I read that the reason for removing the onion is because onions, like garlic, are not digested in the stomach but rather in the intestines which can cause bloating, and that's why some chefs cook with the onions and garlic whole, but then remove them before serving so that their guests don't get bloated afterwards.

        Anyone know for sure if this is true?

        2 Replies
        1. re: ski_gpsy

          " Do you have a fish you prefer? And can you do more than one filet in the skillet at a time?"
          Any firm fish filet will work just fine. I happen to prefer cod, halibut or tilapia but mahi mahi and others are good. I've done two filets at a time in one skillet but I prefer to do them one at a time, each in it's own skillet. My wife likes a squeeze of lemon at the finish, just before it comes out of the skillet. To each his own ....

          1. re: ski_gpsy

            Marcella Hazan included this traditional recipe in her 1992 book, but before that in a 1969 issue of Gourmet magazine, James Beard published the recipe (switch in garlic for the onion) in an article on quick pasta sauces. And for decades before that, Italians from the region had been making this gravy with just tomatoes, garlic or onion, and butter or olive oil. Basic ingredients, and the same in that there were only three.

            The final comment from Mr. Beard in the article was "The delicacy of the fresh tomato flavor will astound you."

          2. Make this very rarely, from Hazan's Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. Delicious, but oh that stick of butter.

            1. As others have said, this is Marcella Hazan's recipe and it is indeed delicious -- I really like it with the recommended bucatini. And don't throw that onion out! Chop it up and eat it on crostini. Or just eat it. :)