An Easy Pomodoro Recipe That Only Tastes Like It Took Hours to Make

Brooklyn-based Australian cook Odette Williams serves up a sauce from her book “Simple Pasta: Pasta Made Simple. Life Made Better”

October 24, 2022 6:25 am
Pasta with pomodoro sauce.
Pomodoro, the Italian word for tomato, comes from "pomo d’oro" which means "golden apple.”
Graydon Herriott

Whether small or big, long or round, fruit or vegetable, tomatoes are the building blocks of culinary delights ranging from a gorgeous gazpacho to star Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes’s favorite condiment.

Williams’s easy Pomodoro sauce recipe, which appears in her second cookbook Simple Pasta: Pasta Made Simple. Life Made Better, is designed to be made in about half an hour but to taste as if it has been simmering over a hot stove for hours. Made with just six ingredients aside from the tomatoes, the most important component of the full-bodied sauce aside from its flavorful foundation is anchovies. “They are these flavor bombs that come in with the umami,” Williams tells InsideHook. “When used in the right way, you don’t necessarily taste the fishiness. They just add this depth of flavor. Melted anchovies are so simple but add this other dimension to what is essentially the simplest sauce.”

A 28-ounce can of the ripe and red rubies is also the building block of Brooklyn-based Australian cook and writer Odette Williams’s Pomodoro (the Italian word for tomato which comes from “pomo d’oro” which means “golden apple”).

Easy Pomodoro Recipe
Tomatoes are the foundation of building block of Brooklyn-based cook Odette Williams’s Pomodoro sauce.
Graydon Herriott

For this sauce, which is perfect for being drizzled over some of Williams’s favorite varieties of gnocchi, simplicity is the name of the game. “This is the simplest red sauce I know,” Williams says. “It comes together in about 15 minutes and you will basically have all the ingredients in your pantry. This is a recipe that you can totally memorize and just have in your back pocket. One of my favorite bottled sauces is Rao’s and this really reminds me of that.”

An author of multiple cookbooks who goes for bottled sauce? Williams explains. “For years, I was always like ‘Why is this bottled sauce so so good?’ There was something about it that made it stand out compared to others on the market. I realized when I was developing my recipe it was olive oil. It feels like too much, but I put in a half cup. It feels instinctively wrong, but it’s perfect for slicking a pound of pasta. It coats the pasta perfectly. For years I had a pretty average red sauce because there wasn’t enough oil and flavor in there.”

Thanks to that revelation, Williams has a well-above-average Pomodoro. Now you do too.

Odette Williams' Pomodoro Sauce

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 30 mins

Servings: Makes approximately 3 cups

  • 1⁄2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 to 6 anchovy fillets, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp. oregano leaves
  • One 28-ounce can San Marzano crushed tomatoes
  • 1⁄4 tsp. kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • For the sauce
    1. In a large skillet over medium-low heat, warm the olive oil.

    2. Add the anchovies to the skillet and cook them slowly, mashing with a wooden spoon until they melt into the oil. (Don’t let the oil get too hot or it will fry the anchovies rather than melt them.)

    3. Add the garlic and oregano to the anchovies and sauté for a few minutes. (Get your face in there and take a whiff of that glorious aroma.)

    4. Finally, add the tomatoes to the skillet, season with the salt and pepper, and let simmer for 20 minutes. 

    5. Serve while warm, or let cool and then keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two days.

  • To make it Arrabiata
    1. Arrabiata means “angry” in Italian, a nod to this sauce’s spiciness. Omit the anchovies and double the amount of garlic to 6 cloves. Add 1 or 2 small seeded and finely chopped fresh red chiles and sauté with the garlic. Add 1 teaspoon brown sugar and an additional 1⁄2 teaspoon salt.

  • To make it Amatriciana
    1. Porky and peppery! Omit the anchovies; substitute 8 ounces diced pancetta, smoked bacon, or, for the real deal, guanciale (skin removed); and sauté in the oil for 4 to 5 minutes. Omit the garlic and oregano and add 3⁄4 teaspoon red pepper flakes. Add the tomatoes and increase the salt and black pepper to 1⁄2 teaspoon each. The fruitiness of the tomatoes will be more front and center; if they lack sweetness, add 1 teaspoon brown sugar.

Reprinted with permission from Simple Pastaby Odette Williams, copyright (c) 2022. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC.


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