Basil Tomato Sauce
Basil Tomato Sauce or Salsa di Pomodoro made with the Best ingredients. A very simple Sauce where the focus is on the Tomato Flavors and the uplifting effects of Basil. There is no long simmering here like you would with a Ragu or Bolognese Sauce. Just Fresh Italian Tomato Sauce with or without ground Meat.
This recipe is based on what I believe to be the Original Pasta Sauce. However, this is a huge and extensive topic and can get quite confusing.
The Original Pasta Sauce
The very first occurrence of a Tomato Sauce served with Pasta appeared first in 1790 from the Italian cookbook L’Apicio moderno, by Roman chef Francesco Leonardi. This Pasta Sauce consisted of Whole Tomatoes, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Garlic, Salt and Basil leaves.
Authentic Italian Pasta Sauce
Made with the BEST ingredients.
- Basil – Fresh
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil – Good Quality
- Soffrito – may be included/omitted, or parts of it used (like Onion & Garlic)
- Seasoning – Salt & Black Pepper
- Tomatoes – Passata
There are many versions, even amongst different regions within Italy and across Families. While the above ingredients are always present and makes up the most basic or simplest form of Pasta Sauce. Sometimes included is Tomato Paste, Parsley, Oregano, Bay Leaves, Cloves, Red Pepper Flakes, Rosemary, or Thyme. With Butter sometimes added, which adds a Creaminess to the Sauce.
Sugo di Pomodoro
The word “Sugo” means Juice in Italian, and Pomodoro means Tomato. Sugo di Pomodoro translates to Tomato Sauce. Just the same as Salsa di Pomodoro.
Salsa di Pomodoro
The word “Salsa” means Sauce in Italian, and Pomodoro means Tomato. Salsa di Pomodoro translates to Tomato Sauce. Just the same as Sugo di Pomodoro.
“Arrabbiata” is Sugo/Salsa di Pomodoro with added Red Chili Flakes for a Spicy Sauce. The word Arrabbiata translates to angry. Used to describe the Spiciness.
The word “Ragu” translates to Meat Sauce and is a general term to describe a Tomato Sauce with Meat. This is a Sugo or Salsa di Pomodoro with Meat. Usually with much more water added and simmered for a much longer period of time. It can include various Herbs & Spices and other ingredients.
A Tomato Sauce with Meat in it, either ground or large pieces, is considered a Ragu. Typically served with Spaghetti and other Pastas.
Ragu is usually simmered for a long time.
The word Bolognese translate to Meat Sauce just the same as Ragu. But does refer to a specific type of Pasta Sauce originating from Bologna, Italy. You will often see the term Ragu alla Bolognese or Bolognese Ragu, including both words Ragu & Bolognese or just Bolognese Sauce. However, a Bolognese Sauce is a Meat Sauce with Tomatoes instead of a Tomato Sauce with meat.
Traditional Bolognese is made with Soffritto. No Basil, Garlic or any other Herbs & Spices. It includes Tomato Paste, Wine (Red or White) and various Meats, usually Beef, Pork and Veal. Cooked for 4+ hours, which requires the addition of Water, some will add broth. Served with Pappardelle or other broad Pastas.
All the Flavors in an Authentic Bolognese Sauce comes from the Soffritto, Wine & Meat. There are no additional Herbs or Spices added.
This is one of the longest Pasta Sauces to make. Requiring 4 hours or more and is very thick.
Basil Tomato Sauce ingredients
Made with simple ingredients and a focus on the Tomato Flavors.
Fresh Basil added to the Pasta Sauce towards the end. Use a lot of Basil, about 1 oz./28 g or more.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Use a good quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil like Bertolli. Used to Sauté the Onions & Garlic.
Sometimes half Olive Oil & Butter is used and creates a Creaminess in the Sauce.
Onions & Garlic
This recipe omits the Carrots & Celery in a Soffritto. Using 1/2 C Onion & 2 – 3 Cloves of Garlic. Finely dice or mince the Onion and mince the Garlic.
Sea Salt & Black Pepper to season the Sauce. Quite common is the addition of Red Chili Flakes for an Angry Pasta Sauce or Arrabbiata Sauce.
Other than that, there isn’t any additional Herbs & Spices, besides the use of Fresh Basil.
Passata is commonly used and made up of Good Quality Tomatoes & Salt.
It has a natural balance of Sweetness & Acidity.
The best brand is Mutti, made with Good Quality Tomatoes & Salt. Pick up a bottle and taste it. Compare it to other Tomato products. Authentic Italian Passata just has that unique flavor profile.
Even among different brands of Passata I found that Mutti was indeed the best. Splendido was very cheap, so I decided to pick up a bottle to compare to Mutti. It is very close, but Mutti does have better flavor.
Tomato Sauce with Onion & Garlic
Use only Onion (Red, White or Yellow) & Garlic for the standard Basil Tomato Sauce. Finely dice or mince the Onion, about 1/2 C so that it can start to dissolve into the Sauce in a relatively short time. Mince the Garlic for the same.
Basil Tomato Sauce Seasoning
It really is all about the Tomato & Basil. This is why you want a good Tomato Product like Mutti Passata and a lot of Fresh Basil. The Seasoning is just Salt & Pepper to taste.
Tear Fresh Basil and add at the last stage of cooking. Use Salt & Pepper to adjust the seasoning at the end.
Spaghetti with Basil Tomato Sauce
This is a nice quick meal for about 3 good portions or 4 smaller portions. With only 1 Bottle (680 ml) of Mutti Passata and 350 g of Spaghetti. Which is about 200 g of Sauce per 100 g of Pasta.
Boil the Spaghetti in Salted Water until almost done. Scoop the Pasta out and add it to the Sauce to finish cooking. Use the Pasta Water to thin the Sauce out if needed, and always adjust the Salt & Pepper before serving.
The beautiful thing about this method is that it allows you fine control over the Sauce Consistency. While at the same time using the Starch from the Pasta to thicken the sauce a bit.
Spaghetti with Basil Tomato Sauce
Spaghetti Boiled until almost done and scooped and placed into the Basil Tomato Sauce to finish cooking.
The Sauce consistency is adjusted with a small amount of Pasta Water. With a final adjustment of Salt & Pepper before serving if needed.
Spaghetti with Basil Tomato Sauce and Meat
Meat can be added for a quick Ragu Sauce, but not simmered as long in order to retain the Fresh Tomato Flavors. This can be exchanged with Italian Sausage or Pancetta.
Spaghetti with Basil Tomato Sauce and Beef
For a quick Ragu Sauce, add in about 1/2 lbs. of Ground Beef after sautéing the Onions & Garlic. Brown the meat and add the Passata with Water.
Basil Tomato Sauce
- 1 Sauce Pot
- 1 680 ml Mutti Passata
- 1/2 C Water - to rinse out the bottle and add to the sauce
- 1/2 C Onion - finely dice or mince
- 1/4 C Extra Virgin Olive Oil - or 2 Tbl each of EVOO & Butter
- 2-3 Cloves Garlic - minced
- 1 tsp Sea Salt - more if needed
- 1/4 tsp Black Pepper - more according to taste
- 28 g Fresh Basil - torn or chopped and added to the sauce last
- Place Onions & Garlic into the Sauce pot with EVOO over medium heat. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until golden. Do not let the Onion or Garlic brown.Add any ground meats if including for a Pasta Meat Sauce and cook through while mincing the meat.
- Add Passata and then 1/2 C water inside the Passata bottle to get all the Tomato Sauce and pour into the Sauce pot along with Salt & Pepper. Mix well, bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to low. Keep a gentle simmer partially covered for 30 minutes or longer until the sauce is thickened. Mixing about every 10 minutes or so.
- When the Sauce is just about done, Add torn pieces of Basil and adjust the seasoning. Serve with choice of Pasta.
Pasta Water16 Cups of Water with 1 -2 Tbl of Sea Salt.
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