Six months from yesterday, I'm going to be a wife. [Insert squeals.] But while checking days off my countdown to wedded bliss is my new favorite hobby (not including sniffing bags of hazelnut coffee in the grocery store and teaching Kona to shake hands or paws or whatever), it also came with a little reality check: husbands need to eat something besides dessert.
I tried to fight it, we even had a few friendly chats over the likelihood that that I will be serving strawberry shortcakes for dinner on any given night instead of half a slaughtered cow like my betrothed would like. I don't know what's so wrong about eating a scoop of yogurt, a piece of string cheese, and two slices of pound cake for dinner. I've long been satisfied on this sort of hodge-podge diet, but apparently grown men do not find it quite so appealing.
It's really quite sad to see the look on Justin's face when I've made a quick vegetable and pasta dinner and he pokes it around on his plate looking like he's just lost his best friend. The first few times I didn't pick up on it and I'd ask what was bothering him - he's say, "Oh, nothing. Thanks for dinner." But now that I'm older and wiser, I know that forlorn expression crinkling his forehead really means, "What is this rabbit food you're feeding me? Where's the meat, woman?"
I thought that if I'm going to be the best wife I can possibly vow to be, that includes cooking. Now don't get any ideas of me in the kitchen all barefoot and pregnant and cooking all the time (although that really doesn't sound so bad to me), it's just that I want to. Justin is handy with lawnmowers and hammers and deducting what that weird noise is underneath the hood of my car, I like to pull rank in the kitchen. What can I say? We dig traditional roles. So in a brave mouse-click or two, I ordered Marcella Hazan's Essentials of Italian Cooking with the hope that I can master some recipes that are more acceptable than a bowl of butterscotch pudding for dinner. You're welcome, honey.
Now I know you're already wagging your finger at this meatless dish because I just went on and on about how much Justin dislikes the vegetarian route (he swears it's part of the job, police officers aren't permitted to eat meatless dishes or they'll take their badges and Man Cards away). But I'm starting small because this book is a beast - it's like the Italian version of Julia's Art of French Cooking. There are some intense recipes in here and I'm treading lightly - I'm a baker here, kids.
This sauce is peppered across the web and newspapers - the sauce to end all sauces. It's simple, seemingly too simple, to deliver the goods but trust me, it does. The butter makes it velvety and lush and smooth, the natural sweetness of the tomato beams through, unmasked thanks to the absence of a mirepoix and any other fussy ingredients. Resist the urge to add red or black pepper - I had to slap my hand away from the grinder - it is better without it. I use this sauce on homemade pizza, too, but it's even better over hot pasta with a fluffy cloud of salty Parmesan cheese. Here's to marital bliss.
Tomato Sauce with Onion and Butter
Adapted from Marcella Hazan
1 28 oz. can whole, peeled plum tomatoes (preferably San Marzano)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed
1 medium yellow onion, halved
Kosher salt, to taste
Parmesan cheese, to serve
Put all the ingredients except the salt in a 3-qt. (or thereabouts) saucepot over medium heat. Bring to a steady simmer, reducing the heat to maintain the bubbling if needed, and cook for 45 minutes or until the fat droplets from the butter float free of the tomatoes.
Stir occasionally, crushing the tomatoes with a wooden spoon against the side of the pot. Season with salt to taste, serve over hot pasta with Parmesan cheese.