Simple Butter and Tomato Sauce

Sugo al Burro e Pomodoro

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Makes enough for

    1 pound

    dried pasta

Appears in

This sauce has been a favorite since my mother made it when I was a little boy. Now it is a favorite of my five-year-old daughter, Gabriella. Nothing could be simpler, or more delicious. When flavorful ripe fresh tomatoes are in season, by all means use them. If it is winter and only mediocre tomatoes are available, a good-quality canned tomato is best. When tossing pasta with it, mix in some freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. I like this sauce with spaghetti, bucatini, and penne, but my favorite is with tortelloni filled with Swiss chard.

Preparation time: 5 minutes
Total time from start to finish: 45 minutes


  • 2 pounds ripe tomatoes or 3 cups canned whole peeled tomatoes with their juice
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • Salt
  • 1 medium yellow onion


  1. If using fresh tomatoes, peel them. Coarsely chop the tomatoes and put them in a sauce pot. Place over medium heat, add the butter, and season with salt.
  2. Peel the onion, trim away the root end, cut it in half, and add it to the pot. When the tomatoes begin to bubble, lower the heat and simmer until the tomatoes are no longer watery and the sauce is reduced, 30 to 45 minutes depending on the size and shape of the pot. The sauce will cook faster in a wider pot. When the sauce is done, you should not see any more liquid in the pan.


Once cool, the sauce will keep in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days, or you can freeze it for up to 2 months.