Annamaria’s Aromatic Pasta Tomato Sauce (Sugo)

AnnaMaria's Aromatic Sugo

Not all of us have a ready and waiting larder packed with bottles of sun-drenched pera d’Abruzzo tomatoes that have been squished into passata ready to make a wonderful pasta tomato sauce better known as sugo in Abruzzo.  We try hard to recreate the flavours of Italy but those tasty tomatoes whose seeds are passed on from generation to generation are hard to beat.

To the rescue comes Annamaria,  who I recently stayed with and who shared what to do with dreary tomatoes, especially when spring is in the air and herbs are no longer just plain woody but with visible new tender leaves and added pungency.  I may not have the best tomatoes but her added cornucopia of herbs makes any base of dreary tomatoes burst with an aromatic flavour and life!  We tried her sugo cooked with some of her memorable polpettine di ricotta (fried ricotta balls), utterly delicious!

Annamaria used to combine working with her husband on their former dairy farm just outside Cellino Attanasio in the province of Teramo with being a weekend cook at local agriturismi.  Their B&B is still a farm but, in a nod to retirement they gave up their milk herd and now just raise beef and olive oil.  Of course she has amazing tomatoes, with bottles of passata and ‘sugo pronto’ that neatly fill a casetta (little house) next to her hens.  What’s interesting in here is the brown boxes full of those bottled tomatoes ready for their sons to take back with them to northern Italy where they work, lucky boys!

Pera Tomatoes

Annamaria's Aromatic Pasta Tomato Sauce (Sugo)

Sammy Dunham
Stuck with dreary tomatoes instead of a jar of sun-drenched Pera d'Abruzzo tomatoes, here's Annamaria's aromatic pasta sauce recipe to give them life
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Course Dinner
Cuisine Italian
Servings 2


  • Aromatic Sugo
  • 750 ml of Chopped Tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoon of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 Sage leaves
  • 1 small sprig of Tarragon
  • 1 small sprig of Rosemary
  • 1 sprig of Thyme
  • 1 sprig of Savory
  • 1 x sprig of Marjoram
  • 3 Chives
  • 1 clove of Garlic
  • 1/2 a Carrot
  • 1/4 of an Onion
  • 1/2 stick of Celery
  • 200 g of Pasta Mezze Maniche shortcut pasta


  • Cook all of the sugo ingredients together on a high heat for about 30 minutes.
  • After cooking remove all the herbs, turn off the heat and add 3 basil leaves.
  • Add your al dente drained cooked pasta into the sauce
  • Stir the pasta in the sauce for 5 minutes on a very low heat and add a little cheese to give it a slightly saltier taste.
  • Tip - During summer you can also add a piece of peperoncini (chili pepper) during the cooking with all the herbs.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Check out our review of the Panfilo Farmhouse B&B or have a look at  Annamaria’s B&B website

Sam Dunham
Author: Sam Dunham

Sam is a very lucky midlife 'mamma' to A who is 12 and juggles her work as a self-employed freelance SEO food and travel copywriter and EFL teacher. She is the founder of the Life In Abruzzo Cultural Association, co-founder of Let's Blog Abruzzo. she is the founder of the 'English in the Woods' initiative, teaching English outdoors in a forest style school.

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Maria Ventresca Bennett
7 March 2017 13:38

Why do you call tomatoes dreary? Dreary means lifeless and depressing. Tomatos are never dreary except in the winter when they’re just plain tasteless! And you can’t make sauce from winter tomatoes.

Life in Abruzzo
Life in Abruzzo
7 March 2017 13:49

Tomatoes are always dreary in out of season in the winter and the ones that I buy tinned from the supermarket in the UK aren’t an awful lot better, hence the word dreary and why I loved Annamaria’s recipe it worked a bit of magic even on those ones

Maria Ventresca Bennett
7 March 2017 13:51

Life in Abruzzo Ah, thank you for your response! Yes tomatoes in winter are awful, especially where I live in the Northeast US where they have to be shipped across country from California or up from Florida, they have no flavor at all. Canned is all we get in winter. Thank you again for your response.

Life in Abruzzo
Life in Abruzzo
7 March 2017 14:00

Maria Ventresca Bennett Do they refrigerate fresh tomatoes in the US when they get them home like the UK?

Italian Cooking Holiday
7 March 2017 14:51

I think we’ve all experienced some dreary tasteless tomatoes, great sounding recipe, brava Annamaria

Catherine Byrne Fitzgerald
7 March 2017 14:27

I do not refrigerate my tomatoes ever. In the winter I use the plum tomatoes , and supplement with canned if needed. In the summer I use my own home grown. My freezer right now has a supply of marinara, bolognese and meat sauce.

Life in Abruzzo
Life in Abruzzo
7 March 2017 18:22

Hi Nicole I think you may have misread that it’s one sprig of Savory which is an amazing herb, there’s 2 main types and also a mountain variant in southern Abruzzo which is great with tomatoes and excellent in stuffing.- see here

Mike Brandolino
7 March 2017 18:34

hmmm… i never used sage in my sauce…
my recipe is similar, except i use more odori

Life in Abruzzo
Life in Abruzzo
7 March 2017 18:48

I hadn’t ever considered sage before but it worked

Brian Barber
7 March 2017 19:47

It’s in my Nonna’s recipe.

Andree Vezina
7 March 2017 18:09

Is aromatic sugo an ingredient or the name of the recipe!
I lived in the northwest as well so in the summer I make sure I can and preserve lots of tomatoes for our long winter ❄️

Life in Abruzzo
Life in Abruzzo
7 March 2017 18:25
Reply to  Andree Vezina

Oh lucky you, what types of tomatoes? Aromatic sugo is the name of the recipe, sugo is the name Italians give to a basic tomato sauce for pasta

Life in Abruzzo
Life in Abruzzo
7 March 2017 21:26

I think Annamaria is up with some of them :), we had some truly wonderful food in the area, I’ll write more on it soon

Jody Della Barba
7 March 2017 22:21

Life in Abruzzo I’ve been there many many times. The area around Cellino is breathtaking.

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