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Nov 19, 2013 11:25 AM

Looking For Authentic Pomodoro Sauce Recipe

I'm looking for an authentic pomodoro sauce recipe, the kind served with pasta, usually penne pomodoro y basilico.

The version I'm looking for is usually found at better Italian restaurants, and is a deep orange color. The attached photo is a good example of how it looks.

It's rich, has a lot of depth, and packed full of flavor. I suspect the color is possibly due to added cream, but even if it is, it's NOT a pink sauce. Im also guessing the sauce is cooked for a good amount of time, perhaps an hour or more.

The pomodoro sauces I did dig up from Google searches were either mislabeled Marinara sauce (Marinara is NOT Pomodoro sauce) or just didn't add up in terms of what I'm looking for.

Any guidance would be appreciated!

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  1. Mario Batali's recipe below....I use it and it's delicious

    1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
    1 Spanish onion, 1/4-inch dice
    4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
    3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves, or 1 tablespoon dried
    1/2 medium carrot, finely grated
    2 (28-ounce) cans peeled whole tomatoes, crushed by hand and juices reserved
    Spaghetti, cooked al dente
    Whole basil leaves, for garnish
    Grated Parmesan, (optional)


    In a 3-quart saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, and cook until soft and light golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the thyme and carrot, and cook 5 minutes more, until the carrot is quite soft. Add the tomatoes and juice and bring to a boil, stirring often. Lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes until as thick as hot cereal. Season with salt and serve. This sauce holds 1 week in the refrigerator or up to 6 months in the freezer.

    When ready to use, the cooked pasta should be added to a saucepan with the appropriate

    amount of sauce. Garnish with basil leaves and cheese, if using.

    1 Reply
    1. re: lpatter

      I think we are having this for dinner tonight. I had forgotten about this recipe. Thanks for posting it.

    2. The light color is likely due to butter whisked into the sauce just before service. Making a sauce from fresh tomatoes can also result in a lighter colored sauce, though frankly I suspect even most good restaurants start with canned tomatoes. Cream is a possibility but butter is more likely. Also, red wine is probably avoided. White wine could be used, though often isn't.

      Generally speaking, you should probably keep things pretty simple for this kind of sauce. Saute onions in olive oil until soft, add garlic if desired, add crushed tomatoes, simmer until thick (if it gets too thick, add a bit of water back), puree if desired, strain if desired, salt to taste, maybe even a pinch of sugar, splash with starchy pasta water, mount with butter, toss with pasta. Done. If a more savory flavor is desired, add some good homemade chicken stock with the tomatoes to be cooked down, and consider sauteing some carrots and celery along with the onion. Herbs (basil is most common, but thyme or oregano are also decent choices) can be added near the end of cooking or just sprinkled on top of the finished tossed pasta.

      That should get you pretty close to a standard restaurant pomodoro sauce. If I have good fresh tomatoes on hand, I'll often do something a little different though. I'll reserve and strain the seedy pulp from the tomatoes. I'll deliberately over-reduce the sauce while cooking it down, and at the end I'll re-hydrate it with the liquid set aside earlier. The uncooked tomato water adds a brightness and intensity that never really makes it into a finished sauce normally. It's important to take the sauce off the heat before adding this 'juice' back (or the flavor will change), and before adding butter to mount (or the sauce won't emulsify).

      1. You can go online to cucinaconnoi or giallozafferano or youtube and search for any sauce you want. On youtube, you can get great recipes from the Italian women themselves - cooking from their own kitchens.
        Of course, every sauce will be different based on the region, but in general, authentic Italian pasta sauce is made with very few ingredients, the tomato sauce being the simplest of the bunch.
        They all usually start out with a bit of olive oil, real tomatoes (dipped into boiling water and peeled), a chili pepper maybe for heat or a clove of garlic and some basil for garnish. That is all.
        Also - Italian tomatoes are not the same as American tomatoes so the sauce will differ in color/taste. Their tomatoes, especially in the Tuscany region are long, oval and a very deep red in color. They pick them prematurely and hang them from beams. Eating one of these is an experience!

        1. The original comment has been removed
          1. I'm pretty sure this is what you're looking for. I just found (and cooked) this recipe on YouTube—It's the best sauce I've ever eaten or cooked:

            Authentic Italian Pomodoro Sauce

            2.5 oz (5 Tbs) extra virgin olive oil (divided)
            1 oz (2 Tbs) butter
            5-6 garlic cloves (skins removed/slightly crushed)
            10 oz (1 1/4 cups) San Marzano tomato purée (divided)
            1 tsp brown sugar
            3/4 tsp sea salt
            1.5 oz (3 Tbs) onion, diced
            4 oz (1/2 cup) cherry tomatoes, quartered
            1/2 tsp black pepper
            1/4 tsp (or less) cayenne pepper
            Lemon zest (1/2 of whole)
            1 oz (2 Tbs) red wine
            1 oz (2 Tbs) white wine
            1 oz vodka (2 Tbs) do not substitute)
            1 Tbs fresh basil, chopped
            2 tsp red wine vinegar

            1. Preheat small sauté pan to medium-high and cook garlic in butter and 1/2 oz of the olive oil until butter is medium golden brown—do not burn garlic. Set aside.

            2. In heavy bottomed non-reactive sauce pan mix remaining olive oil, 5 oz of tomato purée, brown sugar, salt. Cook on high heat until sauce is reduced and bubbles are small. DO NOT STIR!

            3. Stir in onion and fresh tomatoes and reduce heat to medium-high. Cook until tomatoes begin fall apart.

            4. Incorporate remaining tomato purée, lemon zest, and cooked garlic and olive oil that was set aside earlier.

            5. Mix in in black pepper, red wine, white wine, and vodka. Partially cover an with lid and cook for 10 minutes.

            6. Stir in cayenne pepper, partially recover pot and cook for 5 more minutes.

            7. Remove from heat, mix in basil, then purée with stick blender. If you like a less garlicky sauce remove all but 2 cloves before puréeing.

            8. Pass sauce through a sieve.

            9. Finish sauce by incorporating red wine vinegar

            10. The sauce will be rather thick and concentrated. If serving with pasta, reserved some of the hot pasta water before draining to thin out sauce.

            Here is the link to the video. To see instructions be sure to turn annotations on in YouTube: