This tomato garlic pasta sauce is a garlic-lover’s dream. It is a classic recipe from Tuscany traditionally made with fresh elephant garlic (aglione) and traditionally served with thick, handmade noodles called pici. Learn how to make these traditional noodles with our pici pasta recipe!
Velvety garlic purée, white wine and two types of tomato rightfully earn Sugo di Aglione its place in the pantheon of Italian sauces.
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Learn how to make Pici all’Aglione in this video recipe, filmed in Italy:
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How to Make Tomato Garlic Pasta Sauce
Though it looks like garlic, the aglione (Aglione della Chiana) used in this traditional Tuscan tomato garlic pasta sauce is closer to the leek family in terms of taste. It is much milder than regular garlic and lends a very delicate flavor that is unmatched by regular garlic.
We highly recommend that you use elephant garlic if you can find aglione. However, feel free to use regular garlic— just reduce the amount of garlic used and be sure to judge according to your own tastes. Obviously there will be differences in the final taste of the sauce compared to what is made in Tuscany, but it will still be tasty!
To make the tomato and garlic sauce, we start by puréeing the garlic using a blender or immersion blender. Some versions of this recipe in Tuscany call for simply mincing the garlic. However, we like a purée better.
If you are crushing whole tomatoes for the sauce instead of buying crushed tomatoes, prepare the whole tomatoes. Open up each tomato, remove the seeds and any watery liquid. Then, blend the whole tomatoes till they are a pulpy, crushed consistency, as we have done here!
Cook the puréed garlic with red chili pepper and white wine.
Then add the crushed tomato and purée (passata) and simmer.
For the sweetest sauce?
It will be tempting to simply use ‘crushed’ tomato instead of buying whole peeled tomato and crushing them yourself. However, whole tomatoes tend to be sweeter than crushed tomatoes, especially after the seeds and water are removed.
Look for ‘San Marzano’ tomato products!
Look for canned tomato products which say they are made from ‘San Marzano.’ This is a variety of plum tomatoes grown in Italy which are world-renowned for their sweeter flavor. Great for sauces!
Use spaghetti instead of pici pasta!
Pici is the handmade pasta traditionally served with this sauce. It’s very easy to make. Check out our pici pasta recipe. We’ll include the recipe card (below) after the sauce recipe card for your convenience.
Don’t want to make fresh pasta? Use another fresh thick handmade noodle (storebought). Or, even reach for spaghetti.
Discover More Authentic Italian Pasta Recipes!
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Tomato Garlic Pasta Sauce Recipe
- Blender, Food Processor or Immersion Blender optional; you can mince the elephant garlic instead
- ½ cup white wine
- 3 cloves elephant garlic or half this amount of regular garlic
- 1 lb crushed tomatoes or: 56 oz of whole peeled tomatoes, crushed
- 14 oz tomato puree
- 1 cup water
- 4 tbsp olive oil or, as needed
- 1 pinch salt fine; to taste
- 3 whole red chili pepper or, to taste
- 18 oz fresh pasta pici is traditional or choose a fresh or dry spaghetti
Prepare Garlic and Tomatoes
- Blend the garlic with a bit of olive oil until you have a thick, creamy puree. An immersion blender works great here.3 cloves elephant garlic, 4 tbsp olive oil
- Drain all of the water from the whole peeled tomatoes. Cut each tomato open and remove the seeds and any water with running water or by dipping them in a bowl of water. Drain any remaining water and measure out 1 pound of the tomato that remains. Blend the tomato until it’s a coarse, pulpy consistency—similar to crushed tomato from a can. Or, used canned crushed tomato.1 lb crushed tomatoes
Cook the Garlic Purée
- Cover the bottom of a large saucepan with olive oil. Add the garlic puree and whole red chili pepper. Over low heat, sauté the garlic in the olive oil stirring frequently for 2-3 minutes. The garlic should not change color.3 whole red chili pepper
- Add the white wine to the garlic. Over medium-low heat, cook until the wine has evaporated (about 5 minutes).½ cup white wine
- Stir in the tomato purée, the tomato pulp (crushed tomatoes) and a cup of water.14 oz tomato puree, 1 cup water
- Cover and cook over medium-low heat for 25 minutes.
Finish with Pasta
- Combine with drained pasta, cooked according to package instructions. Salt to taste.18 oz fresh pasta, 1 pinch salt
- Buon appetito!