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Pasta Pomodoro

This pasta pomodoro is the perfect easy weeknight meal! This classic Italian dish is the epitome of simple, fresh flavors that let the ingredients shine.

Al dente spaghetti is the perfect canvas for the vibrant sauce. Each strand gets coated in the rich tomato goodness. The key to making it perfect every time?

Homemade pasta pomodoro with basil and parmesan cheese on a white marble table.

Use the best quality, ripest tomatoes available, and infuse the olive oil with garlic. Then, finish the pasta in the sauce with some starchy pasta cooking water. 

Trust me. Even the toughest Italian chefs will approve. 

Why You’ll Love This Pasta Pomodoro

Simple Yet Stunning: This recipe uses just a handful of high-quality ingredients. It exemplifies the art of letting simple, wholesome flavors take center stage. 

Versatile Crowd-Pleaser: It’s suitable for everything from casual dinners to elegant parties. You can easily adapt it for any occasion.

Authentic Italian Experience: You’ll use ripe tomatoes, fresh basil, and extra virgin olive oil. They bring a taste of Italy to your kitchen for an authentic culinary experience.

Fresh pasta pomodoro, garnished with basil and parmesan cheese.


  • Spaghetti: For traditional pasta pomodoro, you need classic spaghetti noodles. However, in a pinch, any long, slender noodles will suffice. 
  • Very Ripe Tomatoes: As they simmer, they release their sweet, juicy flavor. They’re the foundation of the delicious homemade sauce. 
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Its rich, almost fruity flavor is another key sauce component. Infuse it with garlic for depth. 
  • Garlic: Saute in the skillet for a savory but not overpowering essence. 
  • Fresh Basil Leaves: The fragrant finishing touch. They’re bright and peppery and give the sauce an earthy freshness. 
  • Red Pepper Flakes: Add this optional ingredient for heat and spice.
  • Sugar: Add just a little to balance the tomatoes’ acidity and slightly sweeten the sauce. 
  • Salt & Pepper: For seasoning. Use freshly ground black pepper for the best taste. 
  • Parmesan Cheese: Grate it fresh and sprinkle it on top for a sharp, nutty, cheesy finish. 
Spaghetti with tomato sauce in a skillet on a white marble table.

How to Make Pasta Pomodoro

You won’t believe how easy this classic Italian dish is to make. 

1. Cook the pasta. Cook it according to the package directions for al dente pasta. Reserve a cup of the pasta water before draining. 

2. Blanch the tomatoes. Use a knife to make an ‘X’ on the bottom of each tomato. Then, add them to the boiling pasta water for 30 to 60 seconds. Then, immediately transfer them to an ice bath. Peel and discard the skins. Then, chop the tomatoes, reserving the juice. 

3. Saute the garlic. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Then, add the garlic. Saute for about 2 minutes, then remove and discard it. 

4. Simmer the tomatoes. Add the chopped tomatoes, tomato juice, red pepper flakes (if using), sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, and a little pepper to the skillet. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes. 

5. Toss. Add the drained pasta and 1/2 cup of reserved pasta water to the skillet. Toss until the pasta is well coated, adding more reserved water if needed. Remove from heat. 

6. Add the basil. Stir in the torn basil leaves. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed. 

7. Serve. Serve the pasta topped with grated Parmesan and more basil. Enjoy! 

Elegant pasta pomodoro with spaghetti in tomato sauce on a white plate.

Tips for the Best Pasta Pomodoro

Here are a few tips I’ve learned over the years to ensure it turns out perfectly: 

  • The tomatoes matter! For the best flavor, select very ripe, in-season tomatoes. As for the variety, I prefer Roma, San Marzano, or Campari tomatoes
  • No fresh tomatoes? Use a high-quality brand, such as Cento San Marzano canned tomatoes. Puree them in a food processor or blender before making the sauce. 
  • Don’t overcook the pasta! Cook it al dente. Then, let it finish cooking directly in the sauce for the last couple of minutes to absorb more flavor. 
  • Butter it up. At the end of the cooking process, add a pat of butter to the pasta and sauce for extra richness. Stir it gently to help it melt. 
  • Try fun add-ins if desired. Red pepper flakes aren’t the only optional add-in for this recipe. Mix in sauteed veggies, your favorite protein, or a splash of balsamic vinegar. 
Spaghetti with tomato sauce in a white plate.

How to Store

I don’t recommend freezing your leftovers, but you can store them for a few days. 

To Store: Refrigerate leftover pasta pomodoro in an air-tight container for 3 to 5 days. If possible, store the sauce and pasta separately to avoid the pasta soaking up all the sauce. 

To Reheat: Reheat the leftovers on the stove over low heat, adding a bit of water or broth to prevent dryness. Reheat individual portions in the microwave, covered loosely. Add a few drops of water, then heat at 1-minute intervals, stirring between each. 

Pasta Pomodoro

Course: Main CourseCuisine: Italian


Prep time


Cooking time





Dinner doesn’t get much simpler than this pasta pomodoro! The simple combo of spaghetti and a light tomato sauce makes the perfect meal.

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  • 1 pound spaghetti or other long pasta

  • 3 pounds very ripe tomatoes, preferably San Marzano or Roma

  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

  • 4-5 garlic cloves, peeled and lightly smashed

  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)

  • 1 teaspoon sugar

  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, torn

  • Parmesan cheese, for serving


  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, according to package directions. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water before draining.
  • Meanwhile, score an X on the bottom of the tomatoes. Blanch them in the boiling pasta water for 30-60 seconds, then transfer to an ice bath. Peel off the skins, then chop the tomatoes, reserving their juices.
  • Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the garlic cloves and sauté until fragrant but not browned, about 2 minutes. Remove and discard the garlic.
  • Add the chopped tomatoes, their juices, red pepper flakes (if using), sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, and a few grinds of black pepper to the skillet. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes break down into a sauce. (About 15 minutes.)
  • Add the drained pasta to the skillet along with 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water. Toss until the pasta is well coated, adding more pasta water as needed to loosen the sauce. Remove from heat.
  • Stir in the torn basil leaves. Taste and adjust seasoning with more salt and pepper as needed.
  • Serve the pasta topped with grated Parmesan cheese and extra basil. Enjoy!

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author avatar
Kim - InsanelyGood
Hey there! I'm Kim. I love running, cooking, and curling up with a good book! I share recipes for people who LOVE good food, but want to keep things simple :)

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