Pasta Pomodoro

This pasta pomodoro recipe is a delicious pasta dish made with very simple ingredients. This version is made with canned whole tomatoes making it a great recipe for all year round. It is basically spaghetti tossed in a very simple homemade tomato sauce infused with garlic and basil and served with plenty of parmesan cheese. I can totally live on this simple pasta pomodoro - cheese me and I’m good! This classic dish takes little effort and time to put together with maximum flavor in a pinch! It’s on repeat especially in the midweek served on its own with garlic bread and salad or with grilled or roasted chicken or whatever protein I might be making!

Pasta Pomodoro

What is pasta pomodoro?

Pasta pomodoro is a simple Italian Pasta dish. It is a tomato-based pasta sauce made from tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, and fresh basil. Pomodoro means tomato in Italian - more specifically it means “golden apple” a name given to the tomatoes that had a golden-yellow color (usually San Marzano tomatoes) that were commonly used to cook tomato sauce. The name stuck and now it’s the name for tomatoes - so pasta pomodoro or pasta al pomodoro literally means tomato pasta or pasta with tomato sauce. Recipes for pasta al pomodoro differ from region to region in Italy. Some add chopped onion to their pomodoro and others simply stick to tomatoes and garlic like I did in this recipe. The same goes for the techniques involved to make it as well - some like to process the sauce until completely smooth, but others make theirs with a bit of texture by crushing the tomatoes with a wooden spoon or masher - I simply mash my tomatoes which saves time and an extra step. When it comes to the tomatoes some make their pomodoro with fresh tomatoes when San Marzano or Roma variety of tomatoes are in season even cherry tomatoes, and others used good quality canned whole tomatoes. Good quality canned tomatoes make a wonderful pomodoro!

Pomodoro Vs Marinara

Pomodoro sauce is usually thicker than a marinara sauce because crushed tomatoes are the base. Pomodoro is usually made with simple ingredients: olive oil, tomatoes, garlic, sometimes onions and basil. Marinara sauces can include other spices and herbs and usually more liquid and chunky.

Pasta Pomodoro

Pasta Pomodoro Recipe Ingredients

Because this recipe takes only a handful of ingredients to make (you will read it repeated almost for every ingredient) it’s a good idea to use the best quality ingredients you have available for the best flavor. Here is what you will need:

  • Canned Peeled tomatoes: Use the best quality whole peeled canned tomatoes - Plum tomatoes, Roma tomatoes, or San Marzano tomatoes are all ideal for making tomato sauce DOP certified that ensures a tomato is of the San Marzano variety
  • Olive oil: Good quality
  • Fresh Basil: Fresh basil is best for flavour
  • Garlic cloves: Peeled and smashed but left whole - no need to chop or mince
  • Salt and Pepper: To taste
  • Pasta: Usually I use spaghetti or bucatini but really you can use any pasta you like or have on hand - angle hair pasta works well here too
  • Parmesan cheese (Parmigiano-Reggiano): Freshly grated is always best for topping pasta with or if you prefer Grana Padano or some freshly grated ricotta salata feel free to use them instead
  • Optional add ins: Yellow onions or shallots, red pepper flakes, splash of balsamic, butter for a velvety finish to your sauce. Add veggies - asparagus, spinach, broccoli etc. Add a protein like Italian sausage, or chicken or even shrimp

Pasta Pomodoro

How To Make Pasta Pomodoro

  1. INFUSE oil with garlic: Saute whole peeled and smashed garlic in olive oil then remove with slotted spoon when its started to get deep
  2. ADD tomatoes to pot: Crush using your wooden spoon or a potato masher
  3. SEASON crushed tomatoes and simmer 15-20 min
  4. ADD basil and continue to cook sauce over low heat while cooking pasta
  5. COOK pasta until al dente or just before al dente - a couple of minutes less than directed on the package instructions
  6. ADD pasta to sauce with tongs or a skimmer allowing any water from pasta into the pot with the sauce then simmer sauce while stirring pasta until well combined and pasta is al dente and well coated (remove basil)
  7. SERVE with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and fresh torn basil

Pasta Pomodoro

Storage and Make Ahead

  • STORAGE: Leftover pomodoro sauce and pasta can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. Reheat stove top or in the microwave.
  • MAKE AHEAD: The sauce can be made ahead a day in advance. Store it in a container in the refrigerator, and then reheat stove top when you want to cook sauce with the pasta.
  • FREEZING: If you want to freeze this dish I recommend making the sauce and freezing it along without the pasta. Once the sauce is made, remove the basil and allow to cool completely then transfer sauce to an airtight container and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight then reheat stovetop when you want to cook sauce with the pasta.

Pasta Pomodoro

More Saucy Tomato Focused Dishes You Will Love:


Servings: 4
Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 30-40 mins


  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 4-5 garlic cloves, peeled, and smashed whole
  • 1 28-oz. can whole peeled tomatoes (preferably san Marzano DOP certified preferably)
  • 3 large sprigs fresh basil leaves
  • Salt to taste
  • 12-16 ounces (¾-1 lb) bucatini or spaghetti
  • ¼-½ cup finely grated Parmesan or Pecorino, for serving


  1. Heat olive oil over medium heat or medium low heat in a large skillet or dutch oven and add the whole peeled smashed garlic. Simmer stirring until brown then with a slotted spoon or tongs remove and discard garlic. (3-5 min)
  2. Add tomatoes to pot carefully and break up with wooden spoon while they simmer for 20 minutes
  3. Add handful of basil and season sauce with salt and reduce heat to low and allow sauce to simmer gently while you prepare the pasta
  4. Cook 12 oz. bucatini or spaghetti in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until very al dente. Drain, reserve cup of pasta water or use tongs or a skimmer to take pasta straight out of the cooking water and into the sauce
  5. Pluck out and discard basil sprigs. Stir reserved pasta cooking liquid and pasta into sauce or add pasta with tongs using tongs or a skimmer, and bring sauce back to a simmer/boil. Cook, tossing vigorously, until pasta is al dente and sauce thickens and coats pasta, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and serve with loads of Parmesan cheese and garnish with torn basil and enjoy

Recipe Notes

  • I don’t not process the sauce in this recipe but you definitely can if you want a smooth sauce. You can either pass the sauce through a food mill or press the sauce through a sieve or strainer, or you can use a food processor to blend or puree it until smooth or to your preferred consistency.
  • Some Recipes fish off the pasta sauce and dish with a bit of butter for a velvety finish - if you would like to do this you can add 1-2 tablespoon of butter to the pasta in the pot stir and once melted remove from heat and serve with cheese and basil.
  • Prefer to make this sauce with fresh tomatoes? No problem! You will about or 10-12 ripe Roma tomatoes to make this dish. Fist you need to peel them. To do so easily score tops of tomatoes with an ‘x’ using a sharp knife. Boil water in a pot. When the water is boiling, put the tomatoes for a few minutes and then drain. Once the tomatoes are cool enough to touch, peel and rough chop them and add tomatoes and their juices to the pot the same time you would add the canned tomatoes

Pasta Pomodoro