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Tomatoes and Peas with Linguine : The Good Soup

Tomatoes and Peas with Linguine
  • Pesceterian
  • Vegetarian

Marcella Hazan’s Tomato Sauce with Onion and Butter is a phenomenon. One of those recipes that’s so unassuming and simple, it’s easily overlooked in a search for cooking inspiration. But nothing should be overlooked in Marcella Hazan’s books. I’ll write more about her soon. Until then, read Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking before you spend anymore time without her.

This sauce is haunted by sweet onion and made earthly with the grounding notes of butter fat. All you do is simmer tomatoes with a halved onion, a chunk of butter and season. Perfect simplicity.

Unless you’re me, and you’re also haunted by a fridge full of preserves and a weirdly relentless desire for peas. Then, THEN, feel free to complicate things…

Tomatoes and Peas with Linguine

Adapted from Marcello Hazan’s Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking
  • 750g tomatoes (good quality, whole canned tomatoes, or replace with some proportion of roasted tomatoes, whatever amount you have. I used half-half)
  • 74g (or thereabouts), of organic salted or unsalted butter (if you use salted, you’ll just season the sauce less)
  • One onion, cut in half and peeled
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 3 heads of garlic confit
  • 2 cups frozen baby peas (the only frozen vegetables worth buying)
  • 500g linguine
  • Homemade pesto (optional)
  • Parmigiano Reggiano to serve

Bring the tomatoes, butter and onion to a strong simmer, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic heads, if using. Do an initial seasoning with sea salt and a twist of pepper. Place a lid on the pot, set slightly askew to stop the splattering and simmer strongly for around 45 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened and glistens like velvet. Pull out the onion halves and add to the compost. Pull out the garlic heads, and with a fork pinning the head down, push a knife edge along its length toward the tips of the cloves. Most of the garlic should ooze out. Scrape this back into the sauce and taste for seasoning again.

Before you scraping the garlic cloves, bring a large pot of water to boil. Add enough salt (low grade sea salt) to make the water taste a bit like sea water (but not quite). When the water comes to a rapid boil, add the pasta and stir to separate. Place a lid on the pot until it threatens to boil over, then stir again and continue to cook until nearly al dente (Taste the pasta often. Bite through a piece. It’s ready when there’s no dry white centre visible in the middle but the pasta isn’t swollen with water and is still resistant to your bite), throw in the peas, cook for 30seconds and then drain the whole lot.

Toss the pasta back into the pot with the tomato sauce and stir until well combined and the tomato sauce completely adheres to the pasta. Serve with grated Parmeggiano Reggiano and pesto on the side, if you got any.


  1. Jade Lillie
    Jade Lillie
    January 25, 2011 at 12:24 pm | | Reply

    what do i think? i think 1. your food is incredible…. and i think 2. your blog is amazing!! x

  2. manju
    January 25, 2011 at 4:29 pm | | Reply

    Signora Hazan is one of my heroes, too. In the days before celebrity chefs, there were just real cooks like her, cooking real food. I recently heard a radio interview with her and her husband that is quite priceless. Thanks for pointing to this recipe, it is one I have missed!

  3. Bryan
    January 26, 2011 at 6:53 pm | | Reply

    This recipe looks awesome. I am definitely going to have to check out Hazan’s book. Thanks!

  4. Karen Schuld
    January 28, 2011 at 10:53 am | | Reply

    Looks very tasty. I will have to try this recipe

  5. Antonia George
    Antonia George
    March 30, 2013 at 4:19 am | | Reply

    Angela, one of my aunts (a foodie) banged on for ages about Marcella Hazan being the best Italian food writer along with Elizabeth David. I kept on thinking: “what does she know; I’m the one who is married to an Italian”. Well about eighteen months ago, I decided to add the top ten best cookbooks to my already extensive collection. Among them is, of course, Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by none other than Marcella Hazan. I now acknowledge the appeal of MH’s food!

    Currently I’m experimenting with Chinese master stock and the dishes that can be made using such a base. Last night, I cooked salmon in my master stock with baby wilted spinach (stir fried in little oil with chilli and lime juice added). Very simple but delicious. I recommend it to you!

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