Condiments and Sauces/ Dinner/ European/ Pasta & Noodles/ Recipes/ Vegan

Napolitana Pasta with Homemade Napoli Sauce

15/07/2022 (Last Updated: 25/07/2022)

This easy napolitana pasta is ready in just 10 minutes. Made with our super fast Italian homestyle napoli sauce, just add your favourite pasta, a sprinkling of Parmesan and you’re ready to go!

Napoli sauce topped spaghetti in white bowl.

Why We Love This

If you’re looking for a super quick, super simple dinner recipe, napolitana pasta is perfect to have in your repertoire. You can bring it all together in just 10 minutes!

You only need four simple ingredients for the tomato based napoli sauce (which you can use for so much more than just pasta). We’ve included lots of ideas below to tweak the recipe to suit your taste or whatever you want to serve it with. 

Double or triple the recipe so you’ll have plenty of leftovers for lunch or freeze for later. 

Related: Pizza Fritta (Italian Fried Pizza) / Bucatini all’Amatriciana

White bowl of pasta with napoli sauce on top and in the background.

What is Napoli Sauce? 

Napoli sauce is known as salsa di pomodoro alla napoletana in Italian or even just la salsa (the sauce). In English it also goes by the names neapolitan sauce, napoletana sauce or Italian tomato sauce, and is very similar to traditional marinara sauce. 

This meatless pasta sauce originated in the city of Naples, Italy, hence the name. But when it comes to the method, there are many differences when it comes to regional and personal preferences. 

We’ve kept this recipe as simple and basic as possible so you can enjoy it as is, or add your own personal flair.

Close up of bowl with spaghetti and tomato based napoli sauce.

What You’ll Need

  • Passata – Always use room temperature passata for the best flavour. You can use a combination of passata and tomato puree or fresh chopped tomatoes for a little extra texture. Sub with San Marzano canned tomatoes (we love Mutti brand), fresh tomatoes, or tomato puree. 
  • Garlic – Fresh and finely chopped garlic will give you the best, freshest flavour. Sub with minced garlic for convenience.
  • Olive Oil – We recommend extra virgin olive oil but you can use any oil that you prefer. 
  • Grated Parmesan Cheese – Sub with pecorino romano for an extra sharp cheesy bite, or use shredded cheese / whatever cheese you like best or have on hand! 
  • Pasta – We love this sauce with spaghetti or bucatini, but it’ll be amazing with any of your favourite styles and shapes of pasta.
Ingredients to make napoli sauce and pasta.

How to make Napolitana Pasta

  1. Cook pasta according to packet directions until al dente. Once ready, drain it straight away. 
  2. While the pasta is cooking, pop your passata, olive oil and garlic into a small saucepan and bring it to the boil, stirring occasionally, then remove from the heat.
  3. Transfer the cooked pasta into a large mixing bowl and drizzle generously with hot napoli sauce. Or simply transfer pasta to serving plates or bowls, top with napoli sauce and garnish well with Parmesan.
  4. Optional: Garnish with sea salt and cracked black pepper, fresh parsley or basil leaves!

Wandercook’s Tips

  • Sauce – Stir the sauce while you bring it to the boil. This will heat it through evenly and help stop the bubbling sauce splattering all over your stovetop. 
  • Batch Recipe – Double or triple the recipe to make a big batch to use for other recipes or store for later.
  • Storage – Napoli sauce will last for 2-3 days in the fridge in an airtight container (possibly longer, but always use your best judgement). Store the pasta and sauce separately if you can, to avoid the pasta swelling and soaking up all the sauce’s liquid. This sauce also freezes well. Store in portions to make it easier to use later on, and use up within 2-3 months for the best flavour.

FAQs

What else can I use napoli sauce for?

This tomato based sauce is so versatile! Use it in place of canned tomatoes or pasta in other red pasta sauces like pasta amatriciana, bolognese or ragu. Stir it through baked dishes like pasta al forno or moussaka, or use it as a base for homemade pizza sauce. It’s amazing with crumbed chicken as part of a parmigiana topping, or as a sauce for meatballs.

Can I make pasta napoletana with fresh tomatoes?

Yes you can, it’s a great way to use up soft or overripe tomatoes. Roughly chop them first before adding to the pan. You can peel the skin and strain out the seeds to get a more smooth, passata-like texture if you like (or leave them in to save on time). You’ll need to simmer the sauce for a bit longer to reduce more of the water content.

Can I make this vegan or vegetarian friendly?

You sure can, just leave out the parmesan cheese as the remaining ingredients (passata / tomatoes, olive oil and garlic) are completely vegan. Check the ingredients in your pasta to make sure it’s made without eggs (this is especially important for anything labelled as “fresh pasta”).

Can I bottle this sauce?

Yes you can, however we haven’t tested this as we prefer to freeze any leftovers, so please proceed with caution. 

To bottle the sauce, first allow it to cool down to make it easier to handle, then transfer into clean glass bottles and seal. Place the bottles into a large deep pot, cover with water and bring to the boil. Turn off the heat and allow the bottles to cool down in the water (don’t try to remove them while still hot). Once cool, dry them off and store in a dark, cool place.

Variations

  • Pasta Options – Try this sauce with amped up pasta options like spinach and ricotta cannelloni or stuffed ravioli or tortellini. You can even swap the pasta for zoodles (zucchini noodles) instead, for a lighter option. 
  • Add Veggies – This sauce gets nice and hearty when simmered down with sauteed onion, sliced mushrooms, fresh spinach, grated carrot etc.
  • Fresh Herbs – Add fresh herbs such as basil, oregano, rosemary, sage or parsley in with the sauce while cooking, or as a garnish once plated up. Avoid dried herbs as they don’t have the same flavour or intensity as real fresh herbs. That said, pesto is a great way to use preserved basil that still has that beautiful fresh basil flavour (not to mention yummy added garlic).
  • Add Heat – Add crushed chilli flakes / red pepper flakes or sliced fresh chillies to taste.
  • Add Sweetness – Slowly simmer onions until their natural sweetness is released, before adding the remaining ingredients. Or you could add a sprinkling of sugar until the sauce is sweet enough to your liking. 
  • Decadent Flavour Ideas – Add a splash of red wine in with the sauce while cooking, or cook it down with fried bacon or pancetta. Drained and rinsed capers or sliced olives would add a nice savoury saltiness. Or try it with sliced and fried gourmet Italian sausages, chorizo or a spoonful of ‘nduja for even more spicy flavour!

More incredible Italian recipes to cook up next:

★ Did you make this recipe? Please leave a comment and star rating below!

Close up bowl of napoli sauce with pasta.

Napolitana Pasta with Homemade Napoli Sauce

This easy napolitana pasta is ready in just 10 minutes. Made with our super fast Italian homestyle napoli sauce, just add your favourite pasta, a sprinkling of Parmesan and you’re ready to go!
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 4 serves
Calories: 257kcal
Author: Wandercooks
Cost: $5

Equipment

Ingredients

Optional garnishes:

Instructions

  • Cook pasta according to packet directions until al dente. Once ready, drain it straight away.
    200 g spaghetti
  • While the pasta is cooking, pop your passata, olive oil and garlic into a small saucepan and bring it to the boil, stirring occasionally, then remove from the heat.
    400 g passata, 1 tbsp olive oil, 2 cloves garlic
  • Transfer the cooked pasta into a large mixing bowl and drizzle generously with napoli sauce. Or simply transfer pasta to serving plates or bowls, top with napoli sauce and garnish well with Parmesan.
    parmesan cheese
  • Optional: Garnish with sea salt and cracked black pepper, fresh parsley or basil leaves!
    Salt and pepper, fresh parsley or basil leaves

Video

Recipe Notes

  • Passata – Always use room temperature passata for the best flavour. You can use a combination of passata and tomato puree or fresh chopped tomatoes for a little extra texture. Sub with San Marzano canned tomatoes (we love Mutti brand), fresh tomatoes, or tomato puree.
  • Garlic – Fresh and finely chopped garlic will give you the best, freshest flavour. Sub with minced garlic for convenience.
  • Olive Oil – We recommend extra virgin olive oil but you can use any oil that you prefer.
  • Grated Parmesan Cheese – Sub with pecorino romano for an extra sharp cheesy bite, or use shredded cheese / whatever cheese you like best or have on hand!
  • Pasta – We love this sauce with spaghetti or bucatini, but it’ll be amazing with any of your favourite styles and shapes of pasta. Or try it with amped up pasta options like spinach and ricotta cannelloni or stuffed ravioli or tortellini. You can even swap the pasta for zoodles (zucchini noodles) instead, for a lighter option. 
  • Sauce – Stir the sauce while you bring it to the boil. This will heat it through evenly and help stop the bubbling sauce splattering all over your stovetop. 
  • Batch Recipe – Double or triple the recipe to make a big batch to use for other recipes or store for later.
  • Storage – Napoli sauce will last for 2-3 days in the fridge in an airtight container (possibly longer, but always use your best judgement). Store the pasta and sauce separately if you can, to avoid the pasta swelling and soaking up all the sauce’s liquid. This sauce also freezes well. Store in portions to make it easier to use later on, and use up within 2-3 months for the best flavour.
  • Add Veggies – This sauce gets nice and hearty when simmered down with sauteed onion, sliced mushrooms, fresh spinach, grated carrot etc.
  • Fresh Herbs – Add fresh herbs such as basil, oregano, rosemary, sage or parsley in with the sauce while cooking, or as a garnish once plated up. Avoid dried herbs as they don’t have the same flavour or intensity as real fresh herbs. That said, pesto is a great way to use preserved basil that still has that beautiful fresh basil flavour (not to mention yummy added garlic).
  • Add Heat – Add crushed chilli flakes / red pepper flakes or sliced fresh chillies to taste.
  • Add Sweetness – Slowly simmer onions until their natural sweetness is released, before adding the remaining ingredients. Or you could add a sprinkling of sugar until the sauce is sweet enough to your liking. 
  • Decadent Flavour Ideas – Add a splash of red wine in with the sauce while cooking, or cook it down with fried bacon or pancetta. Drained and rinsed capers or sliced olives would add a nice savoury saltiness. Or try it with sliced and fried gourmet Italian sausages, chorizo or a spoonful of ‘nduja for even more spicy flavour!

Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
Napolitana Pasta with Homemade Napoli Sauce
Amount per Serving
Calories
257
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
4
g
6
%
Saturated Fat
 
1
g
6
%
Sodium
 
31
mg
1
%
Potassium
 
551
mg
16
%
Carbohydrates
 
47
g
16
%
Fiber
 
4
g
17
%
Sugar
 
6
g
7
%
Protein
 
8
g
16
%
Vitamin A
 
531
IU
11
%
Vitamin C
 
11
mg
13
%
Calcium
 
31
mg
3
%
Iron
 
2
mg
11
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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Napolitana Pasta with Homemade Napoli Sauce

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10 Comments

  • Reply
    Anna
    28/03/2020 at 12:34 am

    5 stars
    Love the simplicity of this dish! Can never go with a timeless classic like this! Can’t wait to make it this weekend!

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      30/03/2020 at 2:21 pm

      Thanks Anna!

  • Reply
    Jessica Formicola
    27/03/2020 at 10:45 pm

    5 stars
    10 minutes and 5 ingredients sound perfect to me! I can’t wait to make this delicious sauce!

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      30/03/2020 at 2:21 pm

      Agreed! Hope you enjoy Jessica!

  • Reply
    Bry
    27/03/2020 at 10:15 pm

    5 stars
    I never knew Napoli sauce was this easy to prepare! I’ll be making this for dinner tonight, thanks so much!

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      30/03/2020 at 2:21 pm

      It’s a nice go-to basic sauce recipe. We love whipping this up to start, then adding all sorts to it. 🙂

  • Reply
    David
    27/03/2020 at 10:00 pm

    5 stars
    love an easy and simple pasta dish like this! They sure have the best tomatoes from around Naples. I recall our first meal in Naples was a simple margherita pizza, highlighting those tomatoes.

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      30/03/2020 at 2:20 pm

      Oh wow, that would’ve been so good to try. The first day we were in Naples was a national holiday and all the pizza shops were shut – so we had to wait a whole day to try the famous pizza haha

  • Reply
    Dannii
    27/03/2020 at 8:37 pm

    5 stars
    I just love a simple pasta and sauce recipe.

    • Reply
      Wandercooks
      30/03/2020 at 2:20 pm

      Same here!!

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