This pasta pomodoro recipe is spaghetti tossed in a homemade tomato sauce and garnished with plenty of parmesan cheese and fresh basil. A classic Italian dish that’s perfect for entertaining!
You can never go wrong with a hearty pasta dish, especially when you’re feeding a crowd. Some of my favorites include penne alla vodka, Cajun chicken pasta and this simple yet satisfying pasta pomodoro.
Sometimes simple is best, like in this case with the classic Italian favorite pasta pomodoro. The pasta is tossed in the most delicious homemade tomato sauce, with a secret ingredient that makes it taste like it came from your favorite Italian restaurant. Add some parmesan cheese and fresh basil, then serve!
What is pasta pomodoro?
“Pomodoro” is literally Italian for tomato. The ingredients for this dish typically contain some type of canned whole tomatoes, onion, garlic, butter, parmesan cheese and fresh basil. While pomodoro is often made with spaghetti, it can also be made with other types of pasta.
How do you make pasta pomodoro?
You don’t need to wait for ripe summer tomatoes to enjoy pasta pomodoro. The homemade sauce can be made year round with high quality canned tomatoes. The secret ingredient for a great sauce is a can of San Marzano whole tomatoes. These plum tomatoes are sweet and mild, and they are the perfect foundation for pomodoro sauce. San Marzano tomatoes can be found in any grocery store under a variety of labels.
The first step in making pasta pomodoro is to prepare the sauce. The sauce starts with sauteed onions and garlic. The tomatoes are pureed, then simmered with the garlic and onions. Add a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes to give the sauce a bit of a kick! While the sauce is simmering, prepare your pasta. The cooked pasta is tossed with the sauce, then butter and parmesan cheese are stirred into the mix to add richness. Add some more cheese and fresh basil for garnish, then serve and enjoy!
Tips for pasta pomodoro
- While spaghetti is traditional in this dish, other long types of pasta can be used such as fettuccine, bucatini or angel hair pasta.
- Freshly grated parmesan cheese works best in this dish. Pre-grated cheese often contains stabilizers and anti caking agents and does not melt as well.
- You can make the sauce up to 2 days in advance, then reheat the sauce in a pan and toss the pasta, butter and parmesan cheese in the sauce right before serving. The sauce can also be frozen for up to 2 months.
This dish is delicious as is, but you can add other ingredients to customize it to your family’s tastes.
- Protein: Try adding grilled chicken, shrimp, meatballs or Italian sausage to your pasta.
- Vegetables: You can incorporate sauteed veggies such as mushrooms, zucchini, artichokes or eggplant.
- Cheese: Add a layer of shredded mozzarella or fontina over the top of your pasta, then place it under the broiler for 2-3 minutes or until the cheese has melted.
This pasta dish is perfect as a lighter main course, or you can serve it as a side dish alongside chicken and vegetables. I like to serve my pomodoro with a side of garlic bread and a green salad. It’s always a huge hit with kids and adults alike!
More delicious pasta recipes
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 cup onion finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons garlic minced
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes optional
- 28 ounce can San Marzano Whole Tomatoes pureed in a blender or food processor
- salt and pepper to taste
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese divided use
- 3 sprigs fresh basil plus more basil leaves for garnish.
- 12 ounces spaghetti or other long pasta
- Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook for 4-5 minutes or until softened. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute.
- Stir in the red pepper flakes (optional), then add the pureed tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Bring to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes or until sauce has just started to thicken. Stir in the sprigs of basil, then remove the sauce from the heat.
- While the sauce is simmering, cook the spaghetti in a large pot of salted water according to package directions.
- Drain the pasta, reserving 1/4 cup of the pasta cooking liquid.
- Discard the basil sprigs. Add the pasta to the pan with the tomato sauce, toss to coat. Place the pan of pasta over medium heat.
- Add the pasta water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until pasta sauce is at your desired consistency.
- Stir in the butter and half of the parmesan cheese. Toss the pasta until the cheese and butter are melted.
- Remove the pasta from the heat. Top with remaining parmesan cheese and fresh basil leaves, then serve immediately.