Marcella Hazan's favorite recipes

By Mei Chin
Rocky Luten / Food52

French food has Julia Child and Jacques Pépin. Mexican, Rick Bayless and Diana Kennedy. Italian? Marcella Hazan, who emigrated from Italy to the United States in her early thirties, had no cooking experience when she started, and yet rose to become one of the foremost experts on Italian cooking. She wrote seminal cookbooks, hosted television shows, and influenced a generation of Italian chefs, such as Lidia Bastianich.

She believed that simple food is the best food, and we couldn't agree more.  The hallmark of her recipes is simplicity at its best — no need to gratuitously fuss about — and the results are sublime. Here are nine brilliant recipes that celebrate her legacy; make them, and know that each time you do, your technique will get better and your food will be utterly fabulous. Just like Marcella.

Marcella Hazan's Tomato Sauce with Onion and Butter

If there's one Marcella Hazan recipe that you should cook, it's this one. It's her hallmark, her magnum opus, her most famous sauce ever...and it absolutely lives up to the hype. It just has three ingredients: onion, tomatoes, and butter. Yes. really. 

Marcella Hazan's Rice and Smothered Cabbage Soup

On a chilly night, there's nothing like digging into a big bowl of this Venetian-style soup that falls somewhere in between a hearty vegetable soup and creamy risotto. Use really good quality beef or chicken broth — it's the secret to so much of the flavor here.

Marcella Hazan's Braised Celery with Onion, Pancetta, and Tomatoes

Finishing an entire bunch of celery without putting half (or more) of it into the compost is never an easy feat. A stalk here or there for snacking, a little bit more for stews and soups, but the amount never seems to whittle down. Leave it to Marcella Hazan to save the day with this simple side dish recipe. 

Marcella's Broccoli and Potato Soup

The star power in this Marcella Hazan soup recipe does not come in the form of the broccoli or Yukon gold potatoes. Sure, both of those are great, but the real trick is caramelizing thinly sliced onions until they're jammy and golden brown. It adds a layer of sweetness that cuts through the heavy potatoes and bitter broccoli.

Marcella Hazan's Croccante (2-Ingredient Almond Brittle)

Homemade candy makes the perfect little gift . . . or the perfect little afternoon snack. The only tool you need is a potato. Wait, potato? You thought I was going to say a candy thermometer or silicone baking mat, right. Just trust Marcella on this one. It works.

Marcella Hazan's Tomato Sauce with Sautéed Vegetables and Olive Oil

This recipe isn't quite as famous as Marcella's other tomato sauce recipe, but it's just as simple and incredibly versatile. The base of it is made with two pounds of super fresh, super-ripe tomatoes. 

Marcella Hazan's Fettuccine col Sugo di Tonno con Aglio e Panna

"Canned tuna is a familiar ingredient in pasta sauces. Although I was once very fond of it, there was a harshness to the taste of tuna sauces, both other cooks' and my own, that began to trouble me," writes Marcella Hazan. Her dissatisfaction motivated her to find a way to enjoy tuna, which became this salty, savory pasta.

Marcella Hazan's White Bean Soup with Garlic and Parsley

In 10 minutes (yes, 10!), this recipe from Marcella Hazan goes from a few ingredients scattered throughout your pantry to a delicious bowl of vegan soup.

Chicken Liver Pasta Sauce Inspired by Marcella Hazan

This isn't exactly a Marcella Hazan recipe . . . but it's pretty darn close! In addition to chicken livers, it's also made with salty prosciutto (or pancetta) and ground beef for an extra-hearty sauce.


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