Spaghetti al pomodoro

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This classic spaghetti al pomodoro recipe features the ultimate Italian tomato sauce, packed with flavour from great-quality tomatoes and basil. This recipe makes more sauce than required for 4 people, but you can keep it in the fridge for 3 days or freeze it for up to 3 months.

First published in 2017

This simple pomodoro sauce is at the base of Italian cooking. So much so that Italians refer to this dish simply as sugo, which means 'sauce'. It is possibly the most universal sauce of all and it can be used plain or as the base for other more complicated sauces. It’s usually a kids’ favourite as well, so is a real family pleaser. Pasta al pomodoro can be made with tomato purée, but Italians often make it from scratch. In summer, when we are lucky enough to find fresh tomatoes at the market, we eat this pasta regularly. In fact, many people still make enough tomato sauce to last through the winter.

The right tomatoes are fundamental in making a good sauce. They have to be small, sweet and ripe… the big ones (or even the San Marzano/plum ones) are not good to make this sauce, and are mainly used to make chunkier tomato sauces. Making sugo at home is very easy. The only thing is, it needs to be cooked twice: the first time to cook the tomatoes and the second time to thicken the sauce. Apart from that, it is not difficult at all and it tastes so much better than anything out of a jar!




Spaghetti al pomodoro

  • 1kg tomatoes, (sweet solanato or ripe cherry tomatoes work best)
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 12 basil leaves
  • 400g of spaghetti
  • Parmesan, or ricotta Salata, finely grated (optional)
  • 3 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
  • salt, to taste


To begin, cut a slit in the tomatoes (vertically) and place them in a pan with the chopped onion and a little salt. Squash them a little with a wooden spoon to get the juices out, then cook uncovered on a medium-low heat for 20–30 minutes
Discard any liquids that have accumulated on top by skimming off with a spoon. Scoop the cooked tomatoes and onions out of the pan and place in a vegetable mill. Process the pulp into a bowl. If you don't own a vegetable mill, blitz the tomatoes and onions in a blender then pass through a fine sieve
Place the tomato sauce back onto the heat and cook it again, uncovered, on a medium-low heat until it thickens
Add the torn basil leaves 5 minutes before it's ready and season with salt
Cook the pasta al dente, following the instructions on the packet. Drain and mix in a serving bowl with the tomato sauce
Serve with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and finely grated Parmesan, if preferred
First published in 2017

Manuela is an Italian native who currently resides in Australia. She is the author of Manu’s Menu, a food blog about traditional Italian cuisine that she started in 2011. Her blog is one of the top food blogs in Australia.

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