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Recipe: Danilo Cortellini's Tomato Sauce

Danilo Cortellini, Head Chef at The Italian Embassy in London shares his recipe.

Every Italian family will tell you that they possess the secret to the perfect tomato sauce. To me, there are no secrets behind a tomato sauce. You should rely solely on good ingredients, and treat them with respect.

Follow simple steps, and you will make the perfect sauce, which can be used in any dish, from pasta to fish. No secrets, no fuss, just simple good ingredients. Good “passata” can be found all year round, but it is always better to use fresh tomatoes when they are in season.

Serves: 6

Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Cooking Time: 20 minutes


  • 600 g of passata di pomodoro

  • 4 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil

  • 1 white onion

  • 1 garlic clove (chopped)

  • 1 small bunch of fresh basil

  • 2 black olives

  • ½ chilli

  • Salt and pepper (to taste)


Chop the onion roughly. In a large casserole, “sweat” the onion with the extra virgin olive oil and a pinch of salt.

Cook until they start to caramelise, this will bring out all the lovely sweetness of the onion. Once the onion is done, add basil, the olives and garlic. Cook for a couple of minutes.

Add half a chilli. When the onion, garlic and basil are well golden, pour the “passata” in.

Add an extra pinch of salt and black pepper. Let it simmer for 15 minutes. A good tomato sauce does not need to be cooked for hours, no more than 30 minutes.

The tomato sauce should have reduced by 1/3 and becomes thicker. Once cooked, it can be used straight away, or put into sterilized jars. It can be used to dress pasta or as a sauce for fish and meat.

When using, make sure to remove the cooked basil, and add a few fresh leaves into the sauce.


About Danilo Cortellini

Having spent almost twenty years in the hospitality business, Danilo has worked in some of the finest restaurants across Italy and London currently holds the position of Head Chef at the Italian Embassy in London.

Also founder of Danilo Cortellini Ltd, a food, drink and restaurant consultancy company and TIRAMISOO EVENTS, my London based catering and events company.


Twitter: @Danilo_chefUK

Instagram: @danilocortellini

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