Go Back
+ servings
pomodoro sauce on top of spaghetti

Pomodoro Sauce

My Pomodoro sauce is a classic Italian tomato sauce. It's flavored with the bright, fresh, sunny flavors of Italy. The ingredients are simple & easy to find
Course Sauce
Cuisine Italian
Keyword pasta sauce recipes, sauce recipes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 1 (12 ounces)
Calories 1233kcal
Author Kathleen


  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 12 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 3 ounces prosciutto, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup fresh basil, coarsely chopped
  • 1 dry bay leaf
  • 2 tablespoons flat leaf Italian parsley,
  • 1/3 cup white wine
  • 1 (28-ounce) can San Marzano peeled tomatoes, with juices from can
  • 1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper


  • 4 tablespoons reserved pasta water
  • 12 ounces spaghetti, cooked
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons parsley or basil, chopped


  • Heat the olive oil (1/4 cup) in a large saute pan, over medium-high heat, until it shimmers. Reduce the heat to medium and add the garlic (12 cloves), cook, stirring constantly, turning over (watching carefully to make sure garlic doesn't burn.) until the garlic is golden brown, about 1 minute.
    How to make pasta al pomodoro, browning the garlic
  • Add prosciutto (3 ounces), basil (1/3 cup), bay leaf (1), and parsley (3 tablespoons), and continue to cook over medium heat for 30 seconds.
    How to make pasta pomodoro sauce, sauteing prosciutto and garlic
  • Increase heat to medium-high and pour in the wine (1/3 cup) and cook until everything is well incorporated for 10-15 seconds.
  • Pour in tomatoes 1 (28-ounce) can) and break them up as they cook, with a wooden spoon. Add sugar (1/4 teaspoon), salt (3/4 teaspoon), and pepper (1/4 teaspoon). Bring sauce to a boil, reduce heat and simmer briskly from 2-3 minutes or until liquid is reduced by half. Reduce heat and gently simmer continue to 20 minutes.
    How to make pomodoro sauce with meat, stirring sauce
  • When ready to serve, add the drained pasta (12 ounces) to the warm sauce and heat on low heat. Toss. Add half the parmesan cheese and a couple of tablespoons of reserved pasta water, continuing to toss. Add the remaining 1/2 cup parmesan and 2 tablespoons of butter and toss until pasta is well coated. Cook on low for a couple of minutes so the pasta can absorb the sauce. Add more pasta water, a couple of tablespoons at a time, to loosen sauce if necessary. The pasta should be plenty saucy while you're incorporating the cheese so it emulsifies into the sauce properly while still remaining thick enough to coat the pasta.
  • Serve in individual pasta bowls. Garnish the bowl with chopped herbs and pass Parmesan on the side.


  • Nutrition Facts - pasta not included in the nutritional information
  • Extra-virgin olive oil: As I said before, the olive oil in this recipe is the backbone of the sauce. Make sure you use only a high oil. Don't try to cut down the amount used. It just doesn't work with less olive oil.
  • Fresh Basil Leaves: Fresh herbs make all the difference. Don't use dried basil.
  • Dry Bay Leaf: Okay...Okay! I said to use fresh herbs. I meant except for the bay leaf. I likely would prefer fresh but find fresh bay leaves aren't accessible yet at most supermarkets.
  • Italian Parsley: In a pinch, you can use curly parsley.
  • San Marzano Tomatoes: For this sauce, I always use the San Marzano tomatoes imported from Italy. Be careful when you grab a can of these because there are San Marzano tomatoes that are not from Italy and they are not the same. I fell for this once!
  • Reserved Pasta Water: This is the secret ingredient in this recipe! Trust me it will make all the difference in the finished dish. Using a heat-proof measuring cup with a handle (like a pyrex liquid measuring cup), scoop out about 1 cup of the pasta water right before you drain the pasta.
    • The pasta water contains salt and starch from cooking the pasta and helps emulsify the parmesan cheese and smooth out the sauce.
  • Spaghetti: Use good-quality pasta like De Cecco or Barilla.
  • Parmesan cheese: You'll get the best quality and taste from grating Parm from a wedge. I grate it at home by cutting the wedge into large chunks with a chef's knife, then pulsing it in a food processor to get the desired consistency. You can also grate it with a micro planer.
    • I prefer the thicker texture of the cheese processed in the food processor in this recipe. If you want, you can buy the tubs of grated Parm from the deli section, instead. Just don't use the stuff in the green jar.
  • Butter: Adds a velvety texture to this sauce. If you're freaked out because this sauce already requires a lot of olive oil, yes you can skip it. But remember, adding butter to red sauce is a trick from the amazing Marcella Hazan!


Serving: 1whole recipe | Calories: 1233kcal | Carbohydrates: 81g | Protein: 26g | Fat: 90g | Saturated Fat: 19g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 12g | Monounsaturated Fat: 55g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 56mg | Sodium: 4597mg | Potassium: 3452mg | Fiber: 17g | Sugar: 40g | Vitamin A: 3334IU | Vitamin C: 176mg | Calcium: 605mg | Iron: 18mg