Pasta Al Pomodoro is an incredibly simple dish, but there’s a few tips and tricks to bringing out the best in this sauce!
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!
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).
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.
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!
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).
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).
What to serve with Pasta Pomodoro?
If you like the sound of this Italian classic then definitely make sure you check out my Penne Arrabiata!
For more similar recipes check out these beauties too:
- Sun Dried Tomato Pesto Pasta
- Creamy Tomato Sausage Pasta
- Chicken and Chorizo Pasta
- Roasted Red Pepper Pasta
- Bruschetta Pasta
Alrighty, let’s tuck into the full recipe for this pasta pomodoro shall we?!
How to make Pasta Pomodoro (Full Recipe & Video)
- 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)
- 1 packed cup Fresh Basil Leaves (approx 1oz/30g)
- 4 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil, plus more to serve
- 1/3 cup / 30g freshly grated Parmesan, plus more to serve
- 1/4 cup / 65g Tomato Puree (Tomato Paste in US)
- 3-4 cloves of Garlic, left in skins
- 1 medium White Onion, finely diced
- Salt & Pepper, as needed
- Place tomato halves flesh side up and season with a generous helping of salt and pepper. Drizzle with 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil and flip over. Throw on 3-4 cloves of garlic, then roast in the oven at 390F/200C for 25-30mins, or until the tomatoes begin to wilt and char. Roast at a lower temp for a longer period of time for a more intense, sweet flavour. 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 onion and fry until soft and beginning to brown. Add in 1/4 cup tomato puree/paste and fry it off for 1-2mins. Scrape everything into a blender and pour in the tomatoes & garlic (with the juices).
- Pop the lid on, leave the hole at the top open and pop a clean tea towel over the top. Pulse until smooth, then add in basil leaves and pulse a little longer until they dice into small shards.
- Pour sauce back into the pan and turn the heat to a low. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper (season well to bring out the best in this simple sauce), give it a stir for a couple of minutes to allow the air bubbles to burst, then start transferring the pasta straight from the pot into the sauce, using the excess pasta water it brings with it 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 a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
Quick 1 min demo!
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