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Tuscan Tomato Sauce Recipe - Pomarola

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Ravioli alla Pomarola (with a dash of butter too) at the Trattoria Sabatino in Florence

Ravioli alla Pomarola (with a dash of butter too) at the Trattoria Sabatino in Florence

© Kyle Phillips, Licensed to About.Com
In mid-July they begin to arrive: Cases of freshly picked sun-ripened plum tomatoes, and Italian houses fill with anticipation, because there's no dish quite so refreshing on a hot day as a bowl of pasta seasoned with lots of freshly made pomarola and a handful of grated cheese. This recipe expands well, and most households make gallons of it when the flood of tomatoes reaches its peak in August, forcing the prices down. It can also be adapted to canned plum tomatoes.

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes


  • 2-3 pounds (1 - 1.5 k; if they're watery, you will want more) plum tomatoes, cored and chopped
  • A clove of garlic
  • A stick of celery about 6 inches long
  • A small carrot
  • A quarter of a medium onion
  • A bunch of parsley
  • A fresh or dried hot pepper, ribbed and seeds discarded (optional)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • A scant half teaspoon of sugar (optional)
  • A bunch of basil


Pomarola can be made either with or without sautéing the other vegetables.

If you sauté them it will be richer, and if the tomatoes aren't vine ripened, you may want to. However, the sautéing does curb the tomatoey taste of the sauce, so if your tomatoes are of the really good vine ripened variety, you will want to forgo it. Also, pomarola made without sautéing is easier to digest.

If you do decide to sauté, begin by mincing the onion, garlic, celery, carrot, red pepper, and parsley. Sauté them in a quarter cup of olive oil; meanwhile, core and cut up the tomatoes. As soon as the onion has turned translucent, add the tomatoes and a teaspoon or so of salt to the pot and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, till the tomatoes begin to fall apart.

If you decide not to sauté, place the onion, carrot, celery, garlic, pepper, cut up tomatoes, and parsley in a pot, add just a few drops of water, and simmer till the tomatoes begin to fall apart.

Regardless of the procedure you chose, once the tomatoes are cooked, you should crank the pomarola through a food mill, discarding the skins and seeds. Or, if you'd rather, puree the sauce in a food processor. If you do, you may want to add a half teaspoon of sugar to counter the tartness of the tomato skins (many Italians do). In either case, check the seasoning and return the sauce to the fire until it has thickened somewhat, and a drop put on a plate no longer gives off a huge watery halo (depending on how water the sauce was to begin with, this can take up to an hour).

When the sauce is done, stir in the basil leaves and turn off the heat. Transfer the sauce at once to clean sterile jars, sealing each from the air by pouring a thin layer of olive oil over the sauce. Screw the lids onto the jars, and once they have cooled, refrigerate them.

If you decide to expand the recipe, fill a couple of jars for immediate use, and put the rest in sterilized jars without olive oil. Next, put a rack in a pot large enough to hold the jars, set them in it, and fill to cover with cold water. Bring the water to a boil and simmer the jars for about 35 minutes (for pint (500 ml) jars -- figure 45 minutes for quart(1 l) jars). Let the jars sit in the water for 10 minutes, and then remove them to a rack and allow them to cool for 24 hours before tapping the lids with a knife to check the seal (it should ring true; if one does not put the jar in the fridge and use it as needed). Store the jars in a cool dark place, and when you open them seal what you don't use immediately with a thin layer of olive oil.

Last thing: If you get a hankering for pomarola before tomato season begins, you can use canned plum tomatoes. You'll probably want to sauté the herbs in this case.

Figure about a quarter cup of pomarola and a quarter pound of pasta per serving. After you've cooked and drained the pasta, stir in the pomarola and a dab of butter, then serve it with freshly grated Parmigiano (or pecorino romano if you cannot get fresh Parmigiano). For a variation, heat the pomarola over the stove, and, assuming that you're serving four people, stir in a half cup of fresh cream when it begins to bubble. When the sauce is heated through, use it to season your pasta, which is now Rosé.

A wine? A deft, zesty red, along the lines of a Chianti D'Annata.

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