Spaghetti col Pomodoro Fresco e la Cipolla

Spaghetti with Fresh Tomatoes and Onion

Preparation info

  • For

    4 to 6

    • Difficulty


Appears in

Marcella's Italian Kitchen

Marcella's Italian Kitchen

By Marcella Hazan

Published 1986

  • About

Onions and tomatoes do good things for each other, the sweetness of one merging into the tartness of the other to produce flavor that is at once mellow and fresh.

Only the onion in this sauce is cooked at length, simmered in a covered pan until it is tender and lightly colored. The fresh tomatoes are diced small so they can be cooked quickly at high heat. The heat must be turned off before they dissolve, when they still retain some body in their consistency.


  • 2 pounds fresh, ripe, firm plum tomatoes
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 3 cups onion chopped rather fine
  • Salt
  • Black pepper in a grinder
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • cup freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano (Parmesan)


  1. Wash the tomatoes, skin them with a peeler, and split them in half. With the tip of a paring knife pick out as many of the seeds as possible. Dice the tomatoes into ¼-inch cubes.
  2. Choose a 10- to 12-inch sauté pan with a lid. It is important that the pan be no smaller so that the tomatoes can be spread over a large surface and cooked quickly. Put in the butter and onion and turn on the heat to medium high. Cook, stirring well, for about 1 minute, then cover the pan and turn the heat down to low. The onion must cook until it is tender and colored a very pale gold, but it must not brown.
  3. When the onion is done, uncover the pan, add the tomatoes, and turn up the heat to high. Cook, stirring frequently, for 6 to 8 minutes. Add salt and very generous grindings of pepper. There must be enough pepper to balance the sweetness of the onion. When done, the tomatoes should be soft, but not dissolved into sauce; the pieces should still be mostly separate.
  4. Drop the pasta into a pot of abundant boiling salted water. The moment it is barely tender but still firm to the bite, drain it, toss it with the sauce in a warm serving bowl, add the grated cheese, toss again, and serve at once.