Bucatini Pomodoro is a classic Italian dish that elegantly combines the simplicity of fresh ingredients with traditional pasta cooking techniques. The name itself, “Bucatini Pomodoro,” is a blend of two key components: ‘Bucatini’ – a type of pasta, and ‘Pomodoro’ – the Italian term for tomato.

Bucatini Pomodoro

At its core, Bucatini Pomodoro is a testament to the charm of Italian cuisine, where the focus is on quality ingredients and straightforward preparation. Bucatini, the pasta used in this dish, is a long, hollow spaghetti-like noodle, known for its ability to absorb flavors and provide a satisfying texture. The thickness of bucatini makes it an ideal choice for robust sauces.

The Pomodoro part of Bucatini Pomodoro refers to the sauce. Traditionally, this sauce is made with ripe tomatoes that are cooked down into a rich, flavorful base. Garlic and olive oil often form the foundation of the sauce, with a medley of fresh herbs like basil or oregano adding depth and aroma. The key to a perfect Pomodoro sauce lies in its simplicity and the use of fresh, high-quality tomatoes.

To prepare Bucatini Pomodoro, the pasta is cooked al dente, ensuring it retains a slight bite. Meanwhile, the Pomodoro sauce is simmered to a perfect consistency. The cooked bucatini is then tossed with the hot Pomodoro sauce, allowing the pasta to absorb the tomato flavors. The dish is often garnished with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and a sprinkle of herbs for an added layer of taste.

This dish represents the heart of Italian cooking, where the emphasis is on the harmony of flavors and the joy of sharing a meal. Bucatini Pomodoro is not just a dish; it’s an experience, a journey through the essence of Italian culinary tradition, where every bite speaks of the love and care put into its creation. Whether it’s a family dinner or a special occasion, Bucatini Pomodoro stands out for its delightful simplicity and soul-satisfying taste.

Prep time5 minutes
Cooking time15 minutes
Total time20 minutes
CourseMain course
Bucatini Pomodoro

Ingredients for Bucatini Pomodoro


Bucatini Pasta – 1 pound (about 450 grams)

Pomodoro Sauce

  • Ripe Tomatoes – 2 pounds (approximately 900 grams), fresh and finely chopped or crushed
  • Olive Oil – 1/4 cup (60 ml), extra virgin preferred
  • Garlic Cloves – 4 to 5, minced
  • Fresh Basil Leaves – 1/2 cup, chopped
  • Salt – to taste
  • Black Pepper – freshly ground, to taste
  • Red Pepper Flakes (optional) – a pinch, for heat


  • Parmesan Cheese – 1/2 cup, freshly grated
  • Additional Fresh Basil Leaves – for garnish

Tools Needed for Bucatini Pomodoro

  • Large Pot: For boiling the bucatini pasta. Ensure it’s large enough to accommodate the pasta without overcrowding.
  • Colander: For draining the cooked pasta.
  • Large Skillet or Saucepan: To prepare the Pomodoro sauce. The pan should be large enough to later mix in the pasta with the sauce.
  • Wooden Spoon or Spatula: For stirring the sauce and pasta. Wooden tools are preferred as they are gentle on non-stick surfaces and don’t conduct heat.
  • Knife and Cutting Board: For chopping the tomatoes, garlic, and basil.
  • Cheese Grater: For grating fresh Parmesan cheese.
  • Measuring Cups and Spoons: For accurately measuring ingredients like olive oil, salt, and spices.
  • Ladle or Pasta Server: For serving the finished dish.

How to make Bucatini Pomodoro?

Preparation of Ingredients

  • Wash and finely chop the fresh tomatoes.
  • Peel and mince the garlic cloves.
  • Wash and chop the basil leaves, keeping some aside for garnish.
  • Grate the Parmesan cheese.
Bucatini Pomodoro

Cooking the Bucatini

  • Fill the large pot with water and bring it to a boil over high heat. Add a generous pinch of salt to the water.
  • Add the bucatini pasta to the boiling water and cook according to the package instructions until al dente (usually about 8-10 minutes).
  • Once the pasta is cooked, reserve about a cup of the pasta water and then drain the pasta in the colander.

Making the Pomodoro Sauce

  • Heat the olive oil in the large skillet over medium heat.
  • Add the minced garlic to the oil and sauté for about 1 minute until fragrant but not browned.
  • Add the chopped tomatoes to the skillet. Stir well to combine with the garlic.
  • Season the sauce with salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes (if using). Let the sauce simmer for about 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes break down and the sauce thickens.
  • A few minutes before the sauce is done, stir in the chopped basil leaves.

Combining Pasta and Sauce

  • Add the drained bucatini directly into the skillet with the Pomodoro sauce.
  • Toss the pasta and sauce together over low heat, adding a bit of the reserved pasta water if needed to help the sauce coat the pasta evenly.

Final Touches

  • Taste and adjust the seasoning of the sauce as needed.
  • Remove the skillet from heat.


  • Serve the Bucatini Pomodoro hot, garnished with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and additional basil leaves.

What to serve with Bucatini Pomodoro?

  • Garlic Bread or Focaccia: A classic choice, garlic bread or a slice of warm, herbed focaccia serves as a perfect accompaniment to Bucatini Pomodoro. It’s ideal for soaking up the flavorful tomato sauce.
  • Grilled Vegetables: Consider grilling vegetables like zucchini, bell peppers, and eggplant. Their smoky flavor and charred edges provide a nice contrast to the tangy sweetness of the Pomodoro sauce.
  • Caesar Salad: A fresh Caesar salad, with its crisp romaine lettuce, creamy dressing, and crunchy croutons, offers a refreshing and lighter side that pairs well with the pasta.
  • Caprese Salad: Combining fresh mozzarella, ripe tomatoes, and basil, drizzled with balsamic glaze, a Caprese salad mirrors the Italian theme while adding a cold, creamy element to the meal.
  • Steamed Broccoli or Green Beans: For a healthier side, lightly steamed broccoli or green beans seasoned with a hint of garlic and lemon zest can add a fresh, crunchy aspect to your meal.
  • Italian Meatballs or Grilled Chicken: If you’re looking to add protein, consider serving Italian meatballs or grilled chicken on the side. These can be seasoned to complement the flavors in the Bucatini Pomodoro.
  • Roasted Asparagus: Roasted asparagus, with its earthy flavor and slight crispness, adds both color and a unique flavor profile that complements the tomato-based pasta.
  • Antipasto Platter: For a more elaborate dining experience, serve an antipasto platter with a variety of Italian cheeses, cured meats, olives, and marinated artichokes.
  • Sauteed Spinach or Kale: A simple sauté of spinach or kale with garlic adds a nutrient-rich and flavorful green component to your plate.
  • White Wine: To complete the dining experience, consider pairing your Bucatini Pomodoro with a glass of crisp white wine, such as Pinot Grigio or Chardonnay, which complements the acidity and richness of the tomato sauce.
Bucatini Pomodoro

Variations for Bucatini Pomodoro

  • Seafood Twist: Add sautéed shrimp or clams to the Pomodoro sauce for a delightful seafood flavor.
  • Creamy Pomodoro: Stir in a splash of cream or a dollop of ricotta cheese to the sauce for a richer, creamier texture.
  • Spicy Kick: Introduce red chili flakes or sliced fresh chili to the sauce for an extra spicy version.
  • Vegetable-Loaded: Include sautéed mushrooms, spinach, or bell peppers for added nutrition and variety.
  • Meaty Version: Incorporate ground beef, sausage, or pancetta into the sauce for a hearty, meaty flavor.
  • Vegan-Friendly: Use a vegan cheese alternative and ensure the pasta is egg-free for a vegan version of this classic dish.
  • Gluten-Free Adaptation: Substitute bucatini with a gluten-free pasta option for those with dietary restrictions.
  • Herb Refresh: Experiment with different herbs like thyme, oregano, or marjoram for a unique twist.
  • Cheese Variety: Swap Parmesan with Pecorino Romano, Asiago, or a blend of Italian cheeses.
  • Wine-Infused: Add a splash of white or red wine to the sauce while cooking to infuse a subtle, rich flavor.

Tips and Tricks

  • Quality Tomatoes: Use the freshest, ripest tomatoes you can find for the best flavor in your sauce.
  • Pasta Water Magic: Reserve some pasta water to add to the sauce. The starchy water helps the sauce adhere to the pasta better.
  • Al Dente Pasta: Cook the bucatini until it’s al dente (firm to the bite) to prevent it from becoming mushy when mixed with the sauce.
  • Low and Slow Sauce: Simmer the Pomodoro sauce on a low heat for a longer time to develop a deeper flavor.
  • Fresh Herbs Finish: Add fresh basil or other herbs towards the end of cooking to preserve their flavor and color.
  • Garlic Care: Sauté the garlic just until fragrant to avoid burning, which can impart a bitter taste.
  • Seasoning Balance: Adjust salt and pepper gradually, tasting as you go, to find the right balance.
  • Cheese at the End: Add grated cheese after removing the pasta from heat to prevent it from becoming stringy.
  • Sauce Consistency: If the sauce is too thick, thin it with some reserved pasta water. If too thin, let it simmer for a few more minutes.
  • Serving Warm: Serve the dish immediately while it’s warm to enjoy the full flavor and ideal texture of the pasta.
Bucatini Pomodoro

Frequently Asked Questions – FAQ’s

Bucatini Pomodoro stands out due to its use of bucatini pasta, a thicker, hollow spaghetti-like noodle that perfectly holds onto the Pomodoro sauce. The dish emphasizes simplicity and the freshness of ingredients, particularly the ripe tomatoes and fresh herbs in the sauce.

Absolutely! While bucatini is traditional, you can substitute it with spaghetti, linguine, or even penne. The key is in the Pomodoro sauce and the cooking technique.

Yes, Bucatini Pomodoro is inherently vegetarian, as it primarily consists of pasta, tomatoes, herbs, garlic, and cheese. Just ensure the cheese used is vegetarian (free from animal rennet).

Leftover Bucatini Pomodoro can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat gently in a pan over low heat, adding a splash of water or leftover pasta water to loosen the sauce if necessary.

Overcooking the pasta is a common mistake; it should be al dente. Also, be cautious not to burn the garlic, as it can become bitter. Lastly, using low-quality tomatoes can affect the overall flavor of the dish, so opt for the freshest tomatoes you can find.

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Bucatini Pomodoro, a hallmark of Italian cuisine, is a testament to the beauty of simplicity in cooking. This dish, with its harmonious blend of bucatini pasta and a rich, fresh tomato sauce, embodies the essence of comfort food. Its versatility allows for various adaptations, catering to different tastes and dietary needs.

Whether served as a standalone dish or paired with complementary sides, Bucatini Pomodoro offers a delightful culinary experience. It showcases how a few quality ingredients, when prepared with care and love, can create a meal that’s both satisfying and memorable.

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