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I Tried The Beloved Tomato Sauce Recipe That People Really, Really Love

The food world seriously loves this sauce, so I needed to try it.

There are viral recipes, and then there are recipes that can withstand the test of time...

Food Network

Ina Garten's engagement chicken, Sarah Kieffer's pan-banging chocolate chip cookies, and Jim Lahey's no-knead bread have all become staples among home cooks.

And one of those recipes that gets people especially excited is Marcella Hazan's tomato sauce — straight out of her cookbook Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking.

Alfred A. Knopf; 1st edition / Via amazon.com

So what makes it so popular? For starters, the sauce only contains three ingredients: tomatoes (either canned or freshly prepared), butter, an onion, and salt. (OK, so it's four ingredients if you count the salt.) You pretty much just throw everything into a pot, let it simmer, and out comes a perfectly flavorful tomato sauce that's ready to toss over pasta. It's an easy recipe that seemed way too simple to actually be good.

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People all over the internet — from Epicurious to Food52 to Smitten Kitchen — have raved about the simplicity and flavor of the sauce.

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So it got me wondering why I — an avid home cook — have not tried out the beloved recipe for myself.

Rightone / Getty Images

I mean, I've made the cookies, the other cookies, and the other other viral cookies, so I'm definitely susceptible to recipes that evoke a feeling of #FOMO.

I decided to test it out for myself...

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The sauce proved stupid simple to make. You start by combining canned tomatoes, butter, a halved onion, and salt in a large pot.

BuzzFeed

If you want to use fresh tomatoes, Hazan includes directions for how to do that — but fair warning, it requires some blanching and peeling, so it's a bit more work.

As it cooks, mash up any large pieces of tomato to help break them down a bit. After 45 minutes, season it with additional salt if necessary, remove the onion, and that's it.

BuzzFeed

My onion completely fell apart, so it took a little while to fish out all of the pieces — but it really wasn't that big of a deal. The sauce got thick and a bit darker in color, and coated the back of my spoon.

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I tasted the sauce by itself, then decided to serve it with pasta and a few garnishes.

BuzzFeed, Ellie Sunakawa/BuzzFeed

THE VERDICT: This recipe is famous for a reason. The sauce is sweet, bright, and wonderfully savory thanks to the stewed onion. It coated the pasta beautifully and was simple without tasting flat or dull. Sure, it's nothing like your canned marinara or slow-cooked Sunday sauce, but it's delicious in its own way. The sum of the sauce is more than its parts and I would 100% make it again.

TIPS FOR MAKING IT: When I make this sauce again (which I 100% will), I would probably add a bit of black pepper to the sauce itself. I ended up adding it on top of my pasta. Also, the onion falls apart while it cooks, so you'll have to fish around to make sure you pick out all of the pieces — but it's not a big deal at all. Other than that I wouldn't change a thing. You can't get easier than this!

OVERALL RATING: 8/10

DIFFICULTY TO MAKE: 0/10

Are you ready to try it out? Get Marcella Hazan's famous tomato sauce recipe.

Ellie Sunakawa/BuzzFeed

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