Simple Sugo

The aubergines are never ending, and as we have eaten quite a few already this week, I decided to keep things simple and make a sugo I have been eating since I was a kid. You will remember a few months back I posted a super speedy sugo that my Nonna Netta made. This sugo originates from my Zia (auntie) in Sicilia and is completely different to the one my Napolitan Nonna makes.

My Zia would use passata made from fresh tomatoes, which down in Sicily were just the sweetest you have ever tasted. But, even though they were sweet, sometimes they would lose that in the cooking process, so she would add a pinch of sugar to the sugo and it just elevated it to something out of this world. Alongside, she would serve fried aubergine slices which is typical of the region (all that was missing was the Ricotta Infornata) and this would be our lunch most days. Can’t say any of us complained!

Fast forward a few years and we are making similar versions, albeit without the fresh passata from Sicily. Instead, we used chopped tomatoes and balance out any bitterness with sugar and basil. My advice is to start with a pinch, let it cook for a few minutes and then try it again before adding any more as the taste changes quite quickly. I also find that the basil leaves here in Italy are a lot sweeter than in the UK so that helps a lot! I served the pasta with fried aubergines which we placed on top and I used parmesan in place of the ricotta (which is pretty tricky to find outside Sicily I hear).

This is great for a midweek dinner when you’re unsure what to make and if you don’t want to use it with pasta, you can use it in a parmigiana, you can check out my recipe here or make a risotto out of it. And don’t forget the serve with fresh bread – you don’t want to waste a drop of this sugo!

Serves: 4

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes


400ml Chopped Tomatoes

1 Large Garlic Clove

12-16 Fresh Basil Leaves

1 tsp Salt

1 tsp Sugar, optional

Olive oil, optional

Serving option: 500g Linguine, fried aubergines and parmesan


  1. Pour chopped tomatoes into a sauce pan with the garlic and salt. Half fill the can with water and add to the pan.

  2. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Add half the basil leaves, stir and leave to simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  3. Check the seasoning, and if desired, add the additional basil and sugar. Stir again and leave for another 10-15 minutes.

  4. Add olive oil once off the heat if desired!

Use immediately with pasta or let it cool and store in an air tight container for 1-2 days. This also freezes really well!


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© 2021 by The Rosemary Thymes. Cooked with a pinch of love from Italy & the UK 🇬🇧🇮🇹