Monday, August 15, 2011

Tomato Sauce and Music to My Ears

My older son, Sam just returned home (yea!) from a ten day trip to Washington, D.C. He participated in a high school program about forensic science and the group stayed in a college dorm. While there, he learned about bloodstain pattern analysis, DNA evidence, fingerprints, footprints, crime scene investigation and the role of forensic science in the law. How cool is that! Sam met some great students in the program, did community building exercises, toured museums, saw the monuments at night and had a lot of fun (oh, and became a seasoned traveler after a delayed flight, missed connection and no suitcase upon his arrival!). Sam discovered, though, that he does not like dorm food.

As Sam shared stories with Bob and me about all he had learned and what it was like living in a college dorm, he asked a question that warmed my heart. “Mom, can you teach me to cook?” Boy, did I smile! Parenting is full of joy and here is one of those many moments where I think, “Ohhh, hold on to this one.”

The offer to teach my sons to cook has always been there, and as they’ve grown up Sam and Isaac have helped with kneading challah dough, making sushi, baking cookies, chopping veggies, scrambling eggs and flipping pancakes. My boys are terrific eaters and appreciate good food. I hope that, as they continue to grow older, they will be comfortable in the kitchen and enjoy preparing food for their friends at college and beyond. I emphasize that it doesn’t need to be fancy or difficult ... simple preparations yield delicious results.

Together, Sam and I made a list of some favorite meals he’d like to learn to make. We decided to begin with a stellar tomato sauce. Tomato sauce is a building block in so many great dishes such as lasagna, pizza and manicotti, plus this one is delicious served simply on spaghetti. We gathered our ingredients and began cooking while listening to the Mariners game on the radio. Sam and I are going to be in the kitchen together a lot and I couldn’t be happier!

Tomato Sauce with Onion and Butter
Adapted from Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan
Serves 4 (enough for almost 1 pound of spaghetti)

This is a brilliant, pure, rich tomato sauce. After the onion simmers, the recipe calls for discarding the onion. Don’t! Savor it as your pre-dinner snack as you finish fixing the meal.

2 pounds fresh, ripe tomatoes or 28 ounces canned whole Italian tomatoes (such as San Marzano), roughly cut up with their juices
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium onion, peeled and cut in half
Salt to taste

**If using fresh tomatoes, you can blanch and peel them if you desire. We skipped this step since this is a sauce with texture (and we were feeling lazy). If you want the sauce to be smoother, you could give it a quick whiz with an immersion blender.

Put the tomatoes in a 4 quart saucepan and add the butter and onion. Bring the sauce to a simmer then lower the heat and cook uncovered at a very slow simmer for about 45 minutes, or until it is thickened to your liking (we cooked ours for 1 hour). Stir sauce occasionally and break up any pieces of tomato with the back of a wooden spoon. Taste for salt and remove onion (you can discard or enjoy). Proceed with using sauce for spaghetti or another dish.


  1. How lovely - I hope my girls want to cook with me when they are older. One loves helping me now...hope they continue to.

  2. Dorm food is the worst! It was barely better than fast food where I went to school. I had indigestion all the time. My mother and grandmother took pity on me and started sending me leftovers to reheat in my microwave (it helped that I went to school only 30 miles from home).

    I can't believe how simple your tomato sauce recipe is! It sounds delicious.

    I'm sure your girls will! It's wonderful they are growing up in the kitchen with you and eating good food. :)

  4. @Lauren Hairston
    Oh, you are fortunate to have had your mother and grandmother taking such good care of you in college. I hope Sam goes to the UW...very easy to get leftovers to him there. :)

    The first time I tried this sauce recipe I was hooked. Great one to have in the repertoire!


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.