Welcome to the Zester Daily Community! Enjoy One of Our Classic Recipes

Julia della Croce's recipe for Neopolitan Tomato Sauce.

Makes approximately 2 cups, enough for 1 pound of pasta

Pummarola is well suited to the texture of dried pasta, both strand types and short cuts. Spaghetti and linguine are especially compatible with it. It has a pleasant chunky texture, or a rich silkiness when passed through a sieve or a food mill. When sieved, it can be used as a foundation for other sauces wherever a prepared tomato sauce is called for, or for salsa bolognese and the whole tribe of ragùs.


2½ cups (28 ounces) canned, peeled plum tomatoes in juice, seeded and chopped. (D.O.P San Marzanos are preferred.)

4 tablespoons high quality extra virgin olive oil, or more, to taste

2 large cloves garlic, crushed

1 small red or yellow onion, minced

1 medium celery stalk, including leaves, minced

1 small carrot minced

2 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley, minced

2 tablespoons tomato paste

Small handful of chopped fresh basil

Scant ½ teaspoon salt, or to taste

Freshly milled black or white pepper


1. Drain the tomatoes in a colander, reserving their juice; chop and set aside.

2. In an ample saucepan over medium-low heat, warm 3 tablespoons of the olive oil. Stir in the garlic, onion, celery, carrot and parsley, and sauté until the vegetables are completely soft, about 12 minutes. Add the tomato paste and stir until it’s coppery-colored, about 3 minutes. Then add the tomatoes and their juice, cover partially, and simmer, stirring occasionally, gently until thickened, about 45 minutes. Stir in the basil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and blend in the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, or more to taste.

Note: If a smooth sauce is desired, take the pan off the stove when it’s cooked and allow it to cool somewhat. Position a food mill over a clean saucepan and pass the sauce through it, being sure to press out as much of the pulp as possible. Place over medium heat just long enough to heat through, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining tablespoon olive oil.

Attention: Don’t purée the sauce in a food processor; we don’t want to break the seeds.

Ahead-of-time note: The sauce can be made 4 to 5 days in advance of use and stored tightly covered in the refrigerator, or it can be frozen for up to 3 months. Whether storing it in the refrigerator or freezer, leave out the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Stir it into the sauce after reheating.

Top photo: Harvesting the ancient tomatoes of Naples, San Marzano, Campania. Credit: Paolo Ruggiero, DaniCoop



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