This recipe (adapted from Giuliano Hazan’s recollection of his mother, Marcela’s, go-to pasta sauce in Hazan Family Favorites) is almost technique-free, and there’s essentially no mess, plus you only have to remember to give it a stir three times throughout the cooking process. No surprise, but butter does create magic when allied with onion and tomatoes.

  • Yield: 4 to 6 servings
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Total: 1 hr
  • Active: 15 mins

Ingredients (6)

  • 3 cups canned whole peeled tomatoes (preferably San Marzanos) with their juice
  • 1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 5 tablespoons (about 2/3 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for the pasta water
  • 1 pound dried rigatoni pasta
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving


  1. Add the whole tomatoes, their juice, the onion, butter, and salt to a large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. When it starts to bubble, give it a good stir and reduce the heat to low—you want a slow, steady simmer. Cook until thick, about 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes or so.
  2. Put a large pot of salted water over high heat. About 15 minutes before the sauce is done, start cooking the pasta according to the package directions or until al dente. Reserve 3/4 cup of the cooking water and drain; set the drained pasta and cooking water aside, and reserve the pot.
  3. Transfer the sauce to the pasta pot, add the cooked rigatoni and Parmigiano-Reggiano, and stir to combine. Add some of the reserved cooking water if the pasta looks dry. Serve in warmed bowls with additional Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese on the side.