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Lunch/ Pasta

Pasta Pomodoro

August 5, 2020 (Last Updated: February 10, 2023) by Chris Collins

Pasta Al Pomodoro is an incredibly simple dish, but there’s a few tips and tricks to bringing out the best in this sauce!

overhead shot of pasta in white bowl with fresh basil and parmesan surrounding

Pasta Al Pomodoro

If you’ve been a reader of mine for a while you’ll know that most of my pasta recipes contain a whole cup of cream and about 37 blocks of cheese. Today we’re going for something a little different. Still a recipe you’ll absolutely fall in love with never the less 😁

What is Pasta Pomodoro?

Pasta Pomodoro is a celebration of the tomato (‘pomodoro’ means ‘tomato’ in Italian). It’s a classic Italian dish which is often quite light, contains few ingredients and is served with spaghetti.

What is pomodoro sauce made of?

At it’s very most basic, a Pomodoro sauce usually contains good quality tomatoes, olive oil, garlic and in most cases fresh basil. It’s also not uncommon for Pomodoro sauces to contain onion, parmesan and tomato puree, all of which we’re using as well today. And that’s all you’ll need!

close up shot of fork twisting in pasta

Roasted Tomatoes

Okay, so here’s where we’re going to go off track a little bit. Most recipes use canned tomatoes for the base of the sauce. Usually San Marzano Whole Tomatoes, which I’ve personally tested with an works great! BUT, here I see a window of opportunity to inject some extra flavour.

By roasting tomatoes you completely transform them. The flavour intensifies and turns slightly sweet. Chuck a few cloves of garlic in there too to add some gorgeous caramelized roasted garlic and bobs your uncle. Roasting the tomatoes is a really easy but nifty trick to bringing out the best in them.

I recommend using good quality ripe tomatoes (here I use vine-ripened tomatoes).

Process shots: slice tomatoes open, season with s&p and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil (photo 1), flip over and add garlic (photo 2), roast until wilted and lightly charred (photo 3).

How to roast Tomatoes - 3 step by step photos

Pomodoro Pasta Sauce

The roasted tomatoes, oil, garlic and the juices they come with make a good bulk of the sauce. We’re also going to add in some onion, which will just be fried off in a good helping of extra virgin olive oil.

Tomato Puree

This is another game changing ingredient. Tomato puree (i.e tomato paste in the US) will deepen the flavour of the tomatoes. To really bring out the best in the tomato puree though you’ll want to fry it. Sounds odd, but by frying tomato puree you caramelize it and take out that sour bite it has. The difference this makes is huge!

Blender

From there everything goes into a blender and pulses into sauce. I tend to pulse everything, then add in fresh basil and pulse a little more, just so you can see more of the basil. You can however add basil at the start and blitz it into the sauce if you wish.

Can I sub dried basil?

Because you’re not really cooking the sauce for very long you don’t have enough time for dried basil to infuse into the sauce. As such, fresh basil is essential here.

Process shots: add onion to oil (photo 1), fry until soft (photo 2), add tomato puree (photo 3), fry (photo 4), add to blender (photo 5), add roasted tomatoes & garlic (photo 6), blitz (photo 7), add basil and pulse a few times (photo 8).

8 step by step photos of How to make pomodoro sauce

Pasta Pomodoro

From there it’s just a case of popping the sauce back in the pan and tossing through pasta.

What pasta to use?

Spaghetti is most authentic, but any long cut pasta will work great. Here I use Linguine!

Starchy Pasta Water

The final key to this pomodoro sauce is using the water the pasta is cooked in. The starchy pasta water will help emulsify the oils in the sauce and help it cling to the pasta better. It’ll also turn the sauce nice and silky and ever so slightly creamy.

Process shots: add sauce to pan (photo 1), add pasta (photo 2), toss using pasta water (photo 3), toss through parmesan (photo 4).

4 step by step photos of How to make pasta pomodoro

What to serve with Pasta Pomodoro?

In the past I’ve added grilled chicken or Italian sausage, both work nicely. If you’re looking for a side I recommend garlic bread, cheesy pesto garlic bread or cheesy garlic bread!

If you like the sound of this Italian classic then definitely make sure you check out my Penne Arrabiata and Tuna Puttanesca!ย 

For more similar recipes check out these beauties too:

Alrighty, let’s tuck into the full recipe for this pasta pomodoro shall we?!

pasta tongs twisting spaghetti in skillet

How to make Pasta Pomodoroย (Full Recipe & Video)

pasta tongs twisting spaghetti in skillet

Pasta Pomodoro

Pasta Al Pomodoro is an incredibly simple dish, but there's a few tips and tricks to bringing out the best in this sauce!
5 from 5 votes
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Servings (click & slide): 4
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Calories per serving: 632kcal
Cost per serving: ยฃ1.50 / $2

Equipment:

  • Blender or Food Processor
  • Large Skillet & Wooden Spoon
  • Large Pot & Pasta Tongs
  • Large Baking Tray
  • Sharp Knife & Chopping Board
  • Fine Cheese Grater

Ingredients (check list):

  • 1lb / 500g Long-Cut Pasta (here I use linguine, spaghetti also works great)
  • 2lb / 1kg good quality Tomatoes, halved (here I use vine-ripened tomatoes - try and get really fresh/ripe tomatoes)
  • 1/3 cup / 30g freshly grated Parmesan, plus more to serve
  • 1/4 cup / 65g Tomato Puree (Tomato Paste in US)
  • 4 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 3-4 cloves of Garlic, left in skins
  • 1 medium White Onion, finely diced
  • 1 small bunch Fresh Basil Leaves (1oz/30g)
  • Salt & Pepper, as needed

Instructions:

  • Place the garlic and tomatoes (flesh side up) on a large baking tray and season with a generous helping of salt & pepper. Drizzle over 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil and flip the tomatoes over. Roast in the oven at 390F/200C for 25-30mins, or until the tomatoes begin to wilt and char. Once cool enough to handle, squeeze out the garlic from the skins.
  • Add pasta to heavily salted boiling water and cook until al dente.
  • Meanwhile, in a large pan over medium heat add 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil. Add the onion and gently fry until soft and golden. Add in the tomato puree/paste and fry it off for 1-2mins (important to sweeten it). Scrape everything into a blender and pour in the tomatoes & garlic (with the juices).
  • Add basil then pop the lid on, leave the hole at the top open and pop a clean tea towel over the top. Pulse until smooth.
  • Pour the sauce back into the pan over low heat. Season with salt & pepper (season well to bring out the best in this simple sauce) and give it a stir for a couple of minutes to allow the air bubbles to burst. Transfer the pasta straight from the pot into the sauce, using the excess pasta water it brings to emulsify the sauce. Toss the pasta to coat, using a dash more starchy pasta water if needed to bring everything together.
  • Sprinkle over parmesan and give it one final toss. Serve individual portions with another sprinkling of parmesan and any leftover basil. Enjoy!

Quick 1 min demo!

Notes:

a) Tomatoes and Oil - Because both of these make up a good portion of the sauce, I recommend investing in some good quality tomatoes and extra virgin olive oil. It's a simple sauce so this really will make all the difference!
b) Starchy Pasta Water - Important that your pasta water is heavily seasoned so you don't dilute the flavour of the sauce. Also important to make sure you scoop out the pasta water at the very end so it's nice and starchy. The starch molecules will help emulsify the oil in the sauce.
c) Make Ahead - If you want to make this ahead of time I recommend just making the sauce, then cooking up the pasta just before serving and stirring it through. It tends to dry up if you make the whole thing ahead of time. The sauce will last a good 3-4 days if tightly sealed in the fridge (longer at your discretion).
d) To serve - Because it's quite a light sauce I usually serve this for lunch, but you could add garlic bread (or cheesy garlic bread or pesto garlic bread) and to bulk it out more for a dinner!
e) Calories - Whole thing divided by 4 with no extra parmesan/oil:

Your Private Notes:

Nutrition:

Nutrition Facts
Pasta Pomodoro
Amount Per Serving
Calories 632 Calories from Fat 162
% Daily Value*
Fat 18.04g28%
Saturated Fat 3.526g18%
Trans Fat 0.079g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2.397g
Monounsaturated Fat 10.711g
Cholesterol 7mg2%
Sodium 169mg7%
Potassium 874mg25%
Carbohydrates 98.25g33%
Fiber 7g28%
Sugar 10.21g11%
Protein 19.79g40%
Vitamin A 2287IU46%
Vitamin C 35mg42%
Calcium 139mg14%
Iron 4.76mg26%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Nutrition is based on the absence of salt unless stated as a measurement in the ingredients. Cost is worked out based on ingredients bought from UK supermarkets, then divided by the number of servings. In both instances these values are just for guidance. Please check out my FAQ Page for more info.
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Recipe Rating




17 Comments

  • Reply
    Phil
    March 22, 2023 at 9:26 pm

    5 stars
    This is the world’s best pasta sauce! I make it all summer long with tomatoes from my garden. I freeze it in a lexan container and then pack it in a food saver bag for the deep freeze. Usually I add a pound of Italian sausage to a batch and put it on spaghetti with parmesan. Thanks! so much for the recipe!

    • Reply
      Chris Collins
      March 23, 2023 at 10:11 am

      Ah this is awesome to read, Phil! Love the idea of Italian sausage too. Thanks so much for the review ๐Ÿ™‚ C.

  • Reply
    Genny
    March 2, 2023 at 3:12 am

    5 stars
    I don’t leave reviews but this recipe is the bees knees. Entire family enjoys this meal from the 4 yr old to the 50 yr old. Thank you for sharing a clear simple recipe which consistently delivers. Make this many times a year when tomatoes are in season and regularly have extra jars in the fridge. Sometimes I add a little anchovy or capers to change it….but this is a great recipe just as is.

    • Reply
      Chris Collins
      March 2, 2023 at 10:39 am

      Genny, thanks so much for such a lovely review! I’m so pleased you and the family love the recipe ๐Ÿ™‚ C.

  • Reply
    vilko
    February 19, 2023 at 7:44 pm

    Garlic Bread

    So what do you use to sop up all that gravy and red sauce? Garlic bread, of courseโ€”the more garlic and butter, the better. But good luck finding garlic bread in Italy, where bread is almost always baked plain and served without butter.

  • Reply
    Rey
    August 29, 2022 at 5:46 pm

    This looks amazing! You stated that youโ€™ve added chicken and sausage to this dish before.Would adding roasted veggies instead of meat be ok for this pasta dish?

    • Reply
      Chris Collins
      August 30, 2022 at 12:49 pm

      Hey Rey! Definitely don’t feel like you have to add anything to this, as it’s great without any fillings. I haven’t tried adding roasted veggies before. You could always roast up some veggies, then try the pasta as it is and if you think it’s good to go just serve the veggies on the side ๐Ÿ™‚ C.

  • Reply
    Rosemary
    November 22, 2020 at 4:25 pm

    Love the idea of adding roated tomatoes for extra flavoring. This recipe looks amazing. Simple and perfect for a comforting dinner.

    • Reply
      Chris Collins
      November 24, 2020 at 10:26 am

      Thanks Rosemary ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    Kate
    November 19, 2020 at 1:10 pm

    5 stars
    Simple but totally delicious, roasting the tomatoes makes all the difference. Thanks for a great recipe!

    • Reply
      Chris Collins
      November 21, 2020 at 12:09 pm

      Thanks Kate!

  • Reply
    Katherine
    November 19, 2020 at 12:24 pm

    5 stars
    This looks like just the perfect pasta pomodoro. Those roasted tomatoes look incredible.

    • Reply
      Chris Collins
      November 21, 2020 at 12:08 pm

      Thanks Katherine ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    Gina
    November 19, 2020 at 12:07 pm

    Not sure there’s anything more comforting than a big bowl of this! And I love how you’ve kept it true to form by roasting the tomatoes from scratch for the sauce!

    • Reply
      Chris Collins
      November 21, 2020 at 12:08 pm

      You’re not wrong there! Pasta is always a winner!

  • Reply
    Danielle Wolter
    November 19, 2020 at 11:36 am

    5 stars
    Such a light and fresh pasta dish! I love the flavors in this and it was so easy to make. Great recipe!

    • Reply
      Chris Collins
      November 21, 2020 at 12:08 pm

      Thanks Danielle! ๐Ÿ™‚

    5 KNOCKOUT

    DINNERS

    YOU'LL NEVER STOP MAKING!

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