Updated: Oct 10, 2020
When most people think of Italian tomato sauces they automatically think of Marinara. While iconic, there is a lesser known but equally as delicious tomato sauce called "Pomodoro". If you research about what distinguishes these two sauces you will fill find a wide range of answers. I believe that Pomodoro's translation, tomato, is the easiest and best way to describe the dish. When you have Pomodoro the first and most prominent flavor you should taste is the tomato, it is the star of the dish. Where as the tomato flavor in Mariana can get "lost in the sauce" and be interfered with by other flavors. As someone who loathes eating raw tomatoes Pomodoro is the best way to really enjoy the essence of a tomato in a different way.
The first time I had Pomodoro was in 2012 in Philadelphia. My dad was working in the city and a few of his team members were participating in a walk across the Benjamin Franklin Bridge to raise money for women's cancer. It was a lovely day and our closest family friends, the Nelson's, joined us. After our walk we ate lunch outside at a restaurant called Pizzeria Stella. We ordered a slue of pizzas to share and as a pasta lover I suggested we get a few of their pasta dishes. When I first tried the dish I was in heaven! Something about sitting outdoors on a sunny day made this pasta that much better. It was the quality of the tomatoes that really made this dish memorable. Given that there are so few ingredients it is crucial that the tomatoes you use are fresh and in-season. I often make this dish in the summer time when tomatoes are in their prime. I find that cherry or grape tomatoes work best because of their sweetness.
8 Minute Prep
15 Minute Cooking
Serves 3 People
1 lb spaghetti
3/4 cups reserved pasta cooking water
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt and dash of black pepper
1/2 an onion finely diced
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes sliced in half
2-3 cloves of garlic minced
6-8 basil leaves
1 tablespoon of butter or good quality olive oil to finish
Fill and salt a large pot with water and bring to a boil on high heat (once water is boiling add your pasta and undercook by two minutes). While water is heating slice cherry tomatoes in half, finely dice your onion, mince your garlic, and chop your basil leaves.
In a separate pot, large enough to fit your cooked pasta, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil on medium high. Let olive heat for about 2 minutes. Then add your onions and let cook for 4 additional minutes stirring occasionally.
Once onions have sautéed add your tomatoes, garlic, salt, pepper. Stir the pot then cover the pot and let cook for 6 minutes.
Reduce the heat to low and press the tomatoes with the back of a spoon. At this point they should be tender. You can either press them thoroughly if you prefer a smoother sauce or gently if you like your tomatoes more whole. Cook on low for an additional 4 minutes with the lid on, stirring occasionally.
Finally add your pasta and pasta water and cook sauce and pasta together for an additional 2 minutes. Shut the heat off and toss in basil and olive oil or butter for an added luxurious gloss.