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Mangiamaccheroni - Tomato Sauce With Onion & Butter

There are a million different pasta sauces - some authentic, some not so much. Members of my family love the kind of sauce that uses canned tomatoes and simmers all day on the back of the stove, but I’ve never been a fan. I find that the more it simmers, the more acidic it gets (regardless of any sweetener added). I’ve always veered toward the quick sautéed fresh tomatoes with garlic and a few veggies. Admittedly, though it lacks the depth you’d like to have to coat your pasta. This unconventionally simple sauce is a great compromise and super easy.


2 pounds fresh tomatoes of any kind

6-8 tablespoons butter

1 medium onion


1-1 1/2 pounds pasta of your choice

Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Fresh basil, chopped


In a saucepan, melt the butter.

Peel the onion and cut into quarters and add to the pot.

Quarter the tomatoes and add to the pot. Stir.

Cook uncovered at a very low simmer for about 45 minutes, occasionally smashing the onion and tomatoes with a wooden spoon.

Taste and season with a little salt.

To serve, strain the sauce with a small colander, discarding any remaining bits of onion or tomato skin.

Serve over your favorite pasta and top with fresh basil and cheese.

In Italian, “mangiamaccheroni” means eat macaroni. There was a period in the 1600s when that term actually became the description of a particular type of art. Had I lived during that time period, I’m sure the artists would have caught me doing the same.

You’ll note, however, that there is no tomato sauce on the pasta - they ate it “white.” The use of tomato sauce with pasta appeared for the first time in 1790 in the Italian cookbook L’Apicio moderno, by Roman chef Francesco Leonardi.

But try this tomato sauce anyway. It’s light, a little bit sweet from the onion, but is a perfect “gravy” for pasta.

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