Pewter plate with cavatelli in tomato sauce with a napkin, fork and glass of water in the background.
Photography, Art Direction & Food Styling: Anthony Contrino

Last year I was fortunate enough to be invited to Naples, Italy to tour the famous DOP San Marzano tomato fields and factories.  (You can read more about it HERE!)  One of the most memorable experiences was a cooking class we took at a local restaurant named Pulcinella.  After making some fresh gnocchi, we were escorted to the (closet-sized) kitchen to learn how to make a quick, simple tomato sauce.  It came together in minutes, and I couldn’t believe how amazing it was.  I was kind enough to tell the chef that I’d be stealing his recipe, and this is it. 

Pulcinella’s Almost Instant Tomato Sauce

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 2


  • 1 14-ounce can DOP San Marzano tomatoes
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup peppery extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large clove garlic, halved lengthwise
  • 15 medium-sized basil leaves, torn
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for serving
  • ½ pound fresh cavatelli, cooked to al dente


  • Season the San Marzano tomatoes with salt and pepper.
  • In a medium-sized saucepan, warm the oil and garlic over medium-high heat.
  • When the garlic begins to get some color around the edges, remove it with a slotted spoon; discard.
  • Add the basil and swirl to combine.
  • Add the tomatoes, swirl to combine, cover and cook until the tomatoes have softened, for about 4 minutes; remove from the heat.
  • Using a wooden spoon, crush the tomatoes to create a sauce.
  • Transfer to a heat resistant bowl and add the cheese and pasta; toss to combine.
  • Season with salt, as needed.
  • Serve immediately with a sprinkle of Parmigiano-Reggiano.
Cuisine: Italian
Course: Pasta, Sauces
Author: Anthony Michael Contrino
2 pewter plates with cavatelli in tomato sauce with a fork, napkin, water and block of cheese in the background.
Photography, Art Direction & Food Styling: Anthony Contrino