Cooking- Preserving the Season & Marcella Hazan's Tomato Sauce

“Cooking is an art, but you eat it too.”- Marcella Hazan

I've been planning to post this recipe from Marcella Hazan for quite some time, as a way to kick-off my blog. It's a staple in my kitchen and a perfect recipe for this time of year, when we're all rushing to preserve the last of the summer harvest. I was greatly saddened to learn of Ms. Hazan's passing last Sunday. She was undoubtedly one of the great cooks of our time. She has certainly inspired me greatly for many years as I know she has inspired countless other cooks as well. Below is one of her lovely recipes... simple and perfect. I hope she'd be happy that I shared it with you.

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It's officially fall and that means the last of my summer tomatoes are ready to harvest. It's a bittersweet moment, enjoying the last bursts of summer flavors, yet knowing winter is just around the corner. I had some real beauties this season, some of the best I've grown to date, giant orange fruits, both tart and sweet, with perfect juicy texture and gorgeous shape. 

The last of the harvest makes me want to take extra care to respect what I glean from my garden. I relish fresh tomato salads and cool creamy gazpacho all summer long. But come fall, all I can think about is tomato sauce! I imagine how giddy I'll be in January when fresh heirloom tomatoes are a distant memory and I can just open my freezer and pull out a ready-made sauce.

This is one of my many favorite recipes from Ms. Hazan. It's dead simple and super delicious. I think it's a fitting way to honor what she stood for as a cook... simple, approachable food that anyone can make, and that always highlights seasonal flavors in the truest of ways.

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Ingredients:

2 pounds fresh, ripe tomatoes, prepared as described below, or 2 cups canned San Marzano tomatoes, cut up, with their juice

5 tablespoons butter

1 medium onion, peeled and cut in half

4 sprigs fresh thyme

Salt & pepper to taste

1. Put fresh prepared tomatoes in a saucepan, add the butter, onion, thyme, salt & pepper, and cook uncovered at a very slow but steady simmer for about 45 minutes, or until it is thickened to your liking.

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2. Stir from time to time, breaking up any large pieces of tomato with the back of a spoon. 

3. Taste for seasoning. Discard onion. Serve immediately or cool and refrigerate for up to 1 week. You can also freeze, stored in tightly sealed ziploc bags for up to 1 year. 

Preparing Fresh Tomatoes for Sauce:

1. Blanching Method: With a paring knife, mark a shallow 'X' in the bottom of the tomato. Plunge the tomatoes into boiling water for about 30 seconds or until the skin just starts to peel back from the flesh. Stop the cooking by plunging tomatoes into a bowl of ice water. When cool enough to handle, peel the skin away from the flesh and discard. Cut the flesh, seeds and all, into coarse pieces.