Marcella Hazan, the iconic Italian cookbook author died this weekend, and like so many other food lovers, I’ve done the thing that seems the most fitting – taken to the kitchen to cook recipes in her honor. Starting with her famous tomato sauce. {Here’s a link to her obit in the NYTimes, and here’s the bible: Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking – an oft consulted tome from my bookshelf.}

This is a meal I come back to again and again in various incarnations: Israeli Shakshuka, or Turkish Mememen, or with Mexican flavors sort of Ranchero style, or Greek style with lots of feta – it’s such versatile and quick meal, and lends itself to all sorts playing in the kitchen. (Usually I like to cook my own sauce, like Marcella’s here, but in a pinch, I’ll use Rao’s marinara, and the meal will come together in five minutes.)

Eggs simmered in Marcella Hazan’s tomato sauce 

2 cups tomatoes 
1 medium onion
5 tablespoons butter
a good pinch of salt
2 – 3 eggs per person 

First Marcella’s sauce, which, is perhaps her most famous recipe, likely because it has only four ingredients – and some people don’t even count the salt so we’ll call it three ingredients – but also, because it’s exceedingly delicious for so little effort. Here’s what you do: take  2 cups of tomatoes, with their juices – she recommends fresh, or a 28-ounce can of imported San Marzano whole peeled tomatoes, although, admittedly this time I had a single 15 ounce can of diced tomatoes from Trader Joe’s, and it turned out fine – and you put  it in a small sauce pan. Peel a medium onion, chop it in half, and add it to the tomatoes, and then put in five (yes five) tablespoons of butter, and a good pinch of salt. Gently bring to a simmer on medium heat, and cook it uncovered for 45 minutes, stirring every so often. Do a taste check – does it need more salt? Before you serve, you’ll season, and then get rid of the onion – it’s done it’s job. You can use this sauce for pasta, or over chicken, or with some sausages, or with vegetables, or simmered with eggs.

To make the eggs – put the sauce in a large, shallow pan, and cook until warm. Make a few holes in the sauce with your spoon, add the eggs – I’ll do three eggs per person, and share the entire sauce recipe between the two of us –  and cover the pan until the eggs set, about 4 minutes. Serve as is, or top with a healthy grating of Parmigiano.

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