Marcella Hazan, food writer and considered one of the foremost authorities of Italian cuisine, died September 29 at the age of 89.
Ms. Hazan married and moved from Italy to New York with her American husband in 1955. Ironically, she never cooked before she got married. But later, after beginning a cooking school and giving cooking lessons from her home, her husband encouraged her to publish her first cookbook, “The Classic Italian Cookbook”, in 1973. She believed simple, good ingredients lead to delicious dishes and is credited with bringing traditional Italian cuisine to the American public.
Thanks to Ms. Hazan’s wisdom and detailed, quite simple and beautiful recipes, I often fry with butter and vegetable oil (a must when you make her Asparagus Risotto) instead of extra virgin olive oil when required for better, richer and milder taste. Her “Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking” (published 1992) cookbook sits on my counter and is the source of my favorite dishes including braised pork chops (Modena style) and risotto, my guide to using herbs, and provides extra meaning after the news of her death.
In honor of Ms. Hazan, below is a reprint of her simple and delicious tomato recipe.
2 cups tomatoes, with their juices (for example, a 28-ounce can of San Marzano or Italian imported whole peeled tomatoes)
5 tablespoons butter
1 onion, peeled and cut in half
- Combine the tomatoes, their juices, the butter and the onion halves in a saucepan. Add a pinch or two of salt.
- Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Cook, uncovered, for about 45 minutes. Stir occasionally, mashing any large pieces of tomato with a spoon. Add salt as needed.
- Discard the onion before tossing the sauce with pasta. This recipe makes enough sauce for a pound of pasta.