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  • Writer's pictureCarlos Sarmiento

Pasta al pomodoro...pasta with the quintessential Italian tomato sauce

Updated: Nov 13, 2022

A must-learn classic recipe that is unbelievably easy to make and amazingly versatile to use.

(Photo: Carlos Sarmiento)

An Italian friend of mine - from the Abruzzo region, who is a wonderful cook, once told me that real Italian food is simple and you must always use natural ingredients, without altering the flavor of the tomato sauce.

Pomodoro (tomato in Italian) sauce is as simple and remarkably savory as it gets.

(Photo: Andrea Riezzo)

Sugo versus Ragu...what’s the difference?

Sugo or sauce is a term that indicates a more fluid sauce. It truly is a simple tomato sauce like a marinara or can just be whole plum tomatoes and very few ingredients. A ragu is more of a thick, chunky-style sauce, usually made by cooking several kinds of meat in a tomato-based sauce.

This recipe is for a Sugo di Pomodoro.

(Video: Anabella Sarmiento - my 9-year-old daughter & production assistant)

So, as you can see, the ingredients are essentially basic: tomatoes, onions, garlic, basil and olive oil. Salt, pepper and eventually a good grated cheese will compliment your pasta dish nicely.

(Photo: Meghan Rodgers)

Menu: Spaghetti al sugo di pomodoro. Spaghetti with pomodoro (tomato) sauce.

Pairing: 2018 Alta Mora Malbec

This dish serves 4. Andiamo a cucinare! Let’s get cooking!

(Photo: Carlos Sarmiento)


  • 2 large fresh tomatoes

  • 1 (28-ounce) can of San Marzano whole peeled tomatoes

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 small peeled and finely minced yellow onion

  • 3 finely minced garlic cloves

  • 12-16 fresh basil leaves (save 12 for plate garnish, 3 leaves per plate)

  • sea salt and pepper to taste

  • grated Grana-Padano or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (to add to as desired when eating)

  • cooked pasta (1/2 a box feeds 4)

Pasta recommendation:

1/2 box of Barilla Collezione spaghetti


  • Add the fresh tomatoes and San Marzano tomatoes to a blender and blend until smooth. Set aside.

  • Add the olive oil to a large pot at low heat. Add in garlic and onion and cook until translucent, approximately 10 minutes.

  • Pour in the pureed tomatoes and simmer over low to medium heat for at least 30 minutes. Tip: the longer you simmer it, the better it will taste.

  • Finish by stirring in basil, salt and pepper (to taste).

  • Toss a good portion of the sauce with pasta. Pasta should be nicely coated with the sauce.

Serve it up!

Arrange on each plate by neatly placing one large coil serving of the pasta. Tip: using a large meat fork twirl one serving inside of a soup ladle to get the perfect twist. Then, gently place it onto the plate.

Garnish by arranging a few fresh basil leaves on top or by the side, next to the pasta. Sprinkle some fresh cracked pepper on top and dust with some grated cheese. Serve immediately.

(Photo: Carlos Sarmiento)

Wine pairing

Naturally an Italian dish deserves an Italian wine. I would normally opt for a good red wine like: a Montepulciano d’Abruzzo or a Sangiovese.

When I made this dish, I had to improvise so instead I paired it with a refreshingly mild Argentinean wine. A 2018 Alma Mora Malbec.

(Available are most grocery and liquor stores $9-12).

A tavola tutti! Buon apettito. Mangia!

To the table everyone! Enjoy! Eat!

Salute! (Cheers) 🍷

(Video: Anabella Sarmiento)

264 views2 comments


Angelica De Biase
Aug 10, 2020

La voy a preparar 👍


Flor Gomez
Flor Gomez
Aug 05, 2020

Increíblemente fácil y delicioso 😋

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