Salsa di Pomodoro

Tomato Sauce

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Alastair Little's Italian Kitchen

Alastair Little's Italian Kitchen

By Alastair Little

Published 1996

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  • 1 kg of tinned tomato pieces in their liquid with salt, pepper and a little sugar
  • 4 tbsp good olive oil
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • 4 basil leaves


There is no point in cooking a tomato sauce with fresh tomatoes in Britain. The fruit will simply never have enough flavour and the sauce will be acidic, thin and generally not sexy. Plum tomatoes are properly ripened in sun-drenched lands and then put in tins, use them. Having said that, the Italians have been using Britain and America as a dumping ground for very inferior brands of tinned tomatoes for a long time. This is now changing and many good brands are available including the supermarkets’ own ones. I tend to use the tinned chopped tomatoes (pezzi di pomodori) as my sauce material (geddit?). This sauce is ridiculously quick and simple, no onion, no celery, no sweating of ingredients: simply simmer tinned tomato pieces with flavourings until they reach the right consistency.

In a stainless pan simmer 1 kg of tinned tomato pieces in their liquid with salt, pepper and a little sugar, 4 tbsp good olive oil, 1 minced garlic clove, and 4 basil leaves.

Sauce 1

Simmer for a few minutes. This is now suitable for pizze.

Sauce 2

Simmer for about half an hour until it has reduced and concentrated by about one-third. A good general-purpose tomato sauce.

Sauce 3

Slowly simmer and concentrate. Reduce it by 75 per cent and use it sparingly as a relish or when a recipe calls for a rich sauce.

Sauce 4

Arrabiata’ – internally angry or irritated. This is basically Sauce 2 with the addition of hot chillies to taste. Serve with penne or fusilli – no Parmesan.

Sauce 5

As for Sauce 2, with the addition of chopped good anchovies and stoned black olives at the end of the cooking process, it becomes ‘Napoletana’.

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