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 hearty pasta recipes, especially when you’re feeding a crowd. Some of my favorites include Cajun jambalaya pasta, buffalo chicken mac and cheese, manicotti, chicken broccoli Alfredo, penne alla vodka 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 in the most delicious homemade tomato sauce, with high quality ingredients that make it taste like it comes from your favorite Italian restaurant. You won’t believe the amazing flavor!
Table of Contents
This dish consists of simple items including extra-virgin olive oil, onions, garlic cloves, red pepper flakes, tomatoes, salt, pepper, butter, pasta, parmesan cheese and fresh basil.
How Do You Make Pasta Pomodoro?
The first step in making pasta pomodoro is to prepare the sauce. The sauce starts with sauteed onions and garlic in a large skillet. 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 cooking, prepare your pasta. Toss the al dente pasta with the sauce, then stir in butter and parmesan cheese 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 will work such as fettuccine, bucatini or angel hair pasta.
- Serve your pasta with a salad or veggie on the side. Some of my favorite options include Mediterranean salad, succotash, wedge salad and asparagus salad. I also like to offer garlic knots or cheesy pull apart bread.
- 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. You can freeze the sauce for up to 2 months.
- You don’t need to wait for ripe fresh tomatoes to enjoy pasta pomodoro. Make this sauce year round with high quality canned tomatoes. The secret ingredient for a great sauce is a can of San Marzano whole tomatoes. These plum or Roma tomatoes are sweet and mild, and they are the perfect foundation for pomodoro sauce. San Marzanos are available in any grocery store under a variety of labels.
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.
“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 contains spaghetti, it can also use other types of pasta.
Both sauces are tomato based. The main difference is that pomodoro tends to be a smooth sauce that is thicker in consistency. Marinara is a chunky sauce that typically is not as thick.
This dish is delicious as is, but you can add other ingredients to customize it to your family’s tastes.
- Protein: Try adding baked chicken breast, garlic butter shrimp, Italian meatballs or Italian sausage to your pasta.
- Vegetables: You can incorporate cooked veggies such as spinach, roasted cherry tomatoes, sauteed mushrooms and onions, grilled zucchini, artichokes or grilled 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.
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- 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.
- 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.