Napolitana Sauce

NAPOLITANA SAUCE (*tomato and onion sauce)

IT IS DIFFICULT to imagine Italian cookery without fresh tomato sauce. Certainly Italy was the first European country to adopt the pomodoro or ‘golden apple’ without reservations.

This is one of the most widely used sauces, which can be used as a base for other sauces or composite dishes.

As always let me know what you think in the comments!




  • 15 ml (1 tablespoon) olive oil (For plant-based cooking you can use water instead of oil.)
  • 1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 kg ripe tomatoes, skinned* and quartered
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 30ml (2 tablespoons) red wine (optional)
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed or finely chopped
  • 1ml (¼ teaspoon) salt
  • 1ml (¼ teaspoon) sugar
  • 1ml (¼ teaspoon) freshly ground black pepper
  • 10ml (2 teaspoons) lemon juice or vinegar
  • 2ml (½ teaspoon) each finely chopped fresh basil and marjoram, or 1 ml (¼ teaspoon) each dried basil and marjoram
  1. Heat the oil in a large, heavy based pan. Add the onion and cook gently, stirring occasionally, until it is soft but not brown. (If you are plant-based, just add your onions to the water and gently heat, stirring occasionally until your onions are soft.)
  1. Put the tomatoes in the pan with the bay leaf, thyme, wine (if used), garlic and salt.  Stir, cover and simmer until tender.
  1. Rub through a sieve and return to the cleaned pan. Bring to the boil and cook for about 20 minutes until reduced to a purée.
  1. Season the sauce with the sugar, pepper, lemon juice or vinegar and remaining herbs. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
A plate of Napolitana Sauce and pasta


To remove the skin from the tomatoes, put the tomatoes into a pot of kettle boiled water and leave to steep for 5 to 10 minutes. 

Then remove the tomatoes from the water, prick them with a knife and the skin will split, you then just peel the skin off. 

So easy and quick.

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