Pomodoro Sauce is a simple, delicious Italian sauce made from fresh tomatoes, basil and garlic. We went all the way to Italy to learn this recipe and now we are sharing it with YOU!
What Is Pomodoro Sauce (or Sugo di Pomodoro)?
Sugo di Pomodoro is Italian for “tomato sauce”. To be clear, it’s not the same as the tomato sauce that we are familiar with in the States. Tomato sauce in the U.S. comes in a can and tastes similar to tomato paste. In Italy, “tomato sauce” is an art form and also a staple in many recipes. I would even dare to say most Italians don’t even need a recipe for it. They just know it by heart (and taste).
Authentic Italian Pomodoro Sauce
This recipe is the real deal and we aren’t just saying that. We didn’t just pick up this recipe from anywhere. We learned how to make real, Italian pomodoro sauce from the chefs at the Accadamia MedEATerranea in Naples, Italy as part of our tour with the Greatest Tomatoes From Europe last September. This pomodoro sauce was served over homemade potato gnocchi and it was possibly the best thing I have ever eaten. I love this sauce so much!
What Pomodoro Sauce Is
Pomodoro sauce is…
- simple. Just a few easy ingredients that you can find at most grocery stores.
- smooth. The texture is smooth and saucy and will beautifully coat any pasta.
- flavorful. Though the ingredients are simple, the flavor profile is bright and savory.
- light. Pasta al Pomodoro (pasta with tomatoes) is just that. It’s a quick, no frills, light pasta dish.
What Pomodoro Sauce ISN’T
Pomodoro sauce is NOT…
- complicated. With pomodoro sauce, less is MORE. Don’t be adding “Italian seasoning”, oregano, peppers, or any other random ingredients to this delicate sauce.
- chunky. Ok I hate that word, but still. Coarsely chopped ingredients are better suited for marinara sauce, ragu, or bolognese.
- meaty. If you are looking for a meaty, robust pasta sauce, try our meaty bolognese sauce HERE.
What is in Pomodoro Sauce?
Pomodoro sauce is made from only a few easy ingredients:
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil – Use for cooking the garlic, also used to lightly drizzle over the top for extra flavor after cooking.
- Garlic – Infuses the sauce with delicious, bright flavor
- Tomatoes – The main ingredient. The quality of your tomatoes (pomodori) can make or break this recipe. Don’t worry, I will elaborate below so you know how to get the best.
- Salt – Cuts the acidic taste of the tomatoes and brings out the true flavors
- Fresh Basil Leaves– Brings in the fresh, robust flavor that rounds out the sauce to perfection.
- Onions (optional) – adds extra flavor but is not required to make a true pomodoro sauce.
How Do You Make Pomodoro Sauce?
Pomodoro sauce is made by sautéing a little garlic in olive oil and then whole tomatoes are added and simmered until they become soft. The longer you cook down the tomatoes the more the juices will release and the better it will taste. Once they are soft you can blend them with an immersion blender (or regular blender) until smooth. Add some basil and toss with your favorite pasta.
Add salt all throughout the process. Add a little at the beginning and then continue to add, a little at a time, as the sauce cooks. Taste as you go and stop once you get it just right. It might take making it a few times but eventually you will get it down.
As mentioned above, this recipe is all about the tomatoes. You can’t just grab any ol’ can of whatever tomatoes you find on the shelf at the store and expect a good quality pomodoro sauce. Some care needs to be taken in finding the right ones. You have two choices here: Fresh or canned.
If you want to use fresh tomatoes. Make sure you are using a GOOD quality tomato. If not from your garden, opt for tomatoes from the farmer’s market. Don’t get watery, tough tomatoes from just any grocery store. Try to get juicy, red tomatoes from a reputable market. Drop your whole tomatoes in boiling water then place in ice water to make the skins easier to remove. Cut tomatoes in half (remove seeds if desired) and cook according to the recipe below.
Canned tomatoes are undeniably the easiest way to go and you will pretty much get the same outcome as using fresh tomatoes. You can’t just use any canned tomatoes though. You will want to get imported tomatoes (Pomodoro di Pelati) from Italy. No joke, I wrote an ENTIRE POST on this subject. Getting your tomatoes from Italy is a must. Get the peeled, WHOLE tomatoes. Not crushed. Not diced. Whole tomatoes only. DOP San Marzano tomatoes are the best and they can easily be identified at the store by the red DOP seal (think of it like the official “seal of approval” from Italy).
Pomodoro Sauce vs. Marinara Sauce
The biggest difference between pomodoro sauce and marinara sauce is that pomodoro sauce is blended and smooth. Pomodoro sauce is thicker and coats noodles better. Marinara sauce can have added veggies and other ingredients. Because marinara sauce isn’t blended, it tends to be more runny. Both are considered to be “spaghetti sauce”, it just depends on the texture (and flavor) you are looking for.
Can I use Pomodoro Sauce on Homemade Pizza?
You can, but do yourself a favor and don’t. Real, Italian pizza sauce is it’s own thing and should not be cooked. If you want to learn how to make pizza sauce the right way, click HERE.
In Italy, parmesan cheese typically isn’t added over pasta with pomodoro sauce. Sometimes a little Parmigiano reggiano is stirred into the sauce but not over the top. That’s kind of an American thing. Do I still do it at home? Absolutely.
More Italian Favorites
Because we love Italian food so much, we added an entire category of Italian recipes for you to try. To see the entire collection, click HERE.
How To Make Pomodoro Sauce (Sugo di Pomodoro)
Pomodoro Sauce (Sugo di Pomodoro)
- Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and sauté for about 30 seconds or until garlic barely begins to become golden brown.
- Carefully add whole tomatoes and a little salt and lower the heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 30-40 minutes (or longer). When tomatoes are soft, use an immersion blender to blend tomatoes until smooth.
- Tear basil into smaller pieces and add to the sauce. Add more salt to taste. You want to add salt until it balances out the bright, acidic flavor of the tomatoes.
- Remove from heat and toss with your favorite pasta.