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Mamma Miaʻs Pasta Sauce - Food as Medicine

Updated on February 24, 2014

My american italian mother ladles her melt in your mouth tomato sauce over linguni, fettucini or spaghetti for a quick and easy dinner or side dish. At 76, Mom loves to cook and create gourmet meals for friends and family. This is the first in a series of Mamma Miaʻs culinary adventures.

Mom uses campari tomatos from a nearby Costco. " I always have a few left over to make a quick batch of sauce."

"Mom . . . would you say fresh tomatos are essential to your marinara?"

"Fresh is essential for everything . . . the tomatos can not be too acidic . . . if you can not find fresh ripe tomatos use Hunts canned tomatos . . . they are the best. I do not need to add sugar when I cook with ripe vine or Hunts canned tomatos.


  • 1 - 2 Tbsp high quality extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 4 - 5 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 4 cups fresh or 16 ounce can of Hunts diced tomatos
  • 2-3 generous grinds of McCormickʻs italian herb seasoning
  • 3 - 4 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped
  • optional salt and pepper, to taste
  • optional parmesan cheese, shredded
Two staples in Mama Miaʻs kitchen.
Two staples in Mama Miaʻs kitchen.


  1. Chop garlic and let rest for 5 minutes to allow allicin, a cancer fighting antioxidant to reach itʻs peak. In the meantime heat 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a sauce pan over med/low heat.
  2. Add garlic to olive oil and cook til translucent.
  3. Add diced tomatos, turn heat to medium low, partially cover leaving a quarter inch of open space and simmer for thirty minutes.
  4. Add McCormickʻs italian seasoning and fresh basil and simmer five more minutes.
  5. Taste the sauce and decide if you want to add salt, pepper or more italian seasoning or fresh basil.
  6. Simmer until sauce reaches desired consistancy, taste testing and adding seasoning as needed.
  7. Pour over pasta and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.
  8. Mangiamo!

Cook Time

Prep time: 5 min
Cook time: 40 min
Ready in: 45 min
Yields: Serves four people as a main dish
5 stars from 1 rating of Pasta sauce

More From Mamma Mia

Pair Mamma Miaʻs Pasta Sauce with Mamma Miaʻs Fish Dish and Salad Dressing for a nutritious, delicious meal.

Health Benefits

Teeny weeny Mamma Mia is healthy as a horse. It could be genes - Grandma Josephine enjoyed excellent health until a year before her death from leukemia at age 96. It could be their heavy consumption of pasta sauce.

A myriad of studies on the lycopene in tomatoes find a diet supplemented with tomato sauce reduces oxidative stress and chronic conditions like heart disease and cancer. A 2007 University of Alabama study found the allicin in garlic has lipid-lowering, anti-blood coagulation, anti-hypertension, anti-cancer, and antioxidant effects. In a 2012 study, Kingston University researchers found that polyphenols in culinary herbs caused anti-inflammatory activity after digestion.

Chatting with Mamma Mia

Itʻs pure serendipity in Momʻs magic kitchen. On the rare occasion she uses a recipe, altercations abound. Her chatter scatters cuisine secrets that span generations.

"Donʻt burn the garlic . . . if you overcook the garlic, just throw it out and start over."

Momʻs earliest memory of food is of her mom, my Grandma Josephine making pasta in their Carrie Street kitchen on Goose Hill in Schenectedy, NY.

"She has a scarf around her head and flour on her chin. She whips a layer of dough about with the rolling pin Dad made from a broomstick. The sheet gets thinner and larger. She sprinkles flour on it and sets it on a sheet on her bed to dry. Every Sunday morning the pasta sauce simmers on the stove and we kids dip in with pieces of bread."


Bowen P, Chen L, Stacewicz-Sapuntzakis M, Duncan C, Sharifi R, Ghosh L, Kim HS, Christov-Tzelkov K, and van Breemen R. "Tomato sauce supplementation and prostate cancer: lycopene accumulation and modulation of biomarkers of carcinogenesis." Exp Biol Med (Maywood). 2002 Nov;227(10):886-93. Web 10/09/2012

Goodman, Troy "Garlic Boosts Hydrogen Sulfide To Relax Arteries" UAB newsletter . October 17, 2007 Web 10/09/2012

Chohan M, Naughton DP, Jones L, and Opara EI. "An investigation of the relationship between the anti-inflammatory activity, polyphenolic content, and antioxidant activities of cooked and in vitro digested culinary herbs." Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2012;2012:627843. Epub 2012 May 21. Web 10/09/2012


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    • profile image

      stessily 5 years ago

      YogaKat, Beautifully expressed about "the love in a cook's heart" flowing into culinary creations and thereby "like any artist uplifts us." I find it interesting that invariably I come across talented chefs whose educational background is in art history.

      I'm looking forward to more from Mama Mia!

      Appreciatively, Stessily

    • YogaKat profile image

      YogaKat 5 years ago from Oahu Hawaii

      Stessily, thanks for the wonderful comment. I had the pleasure of Mama Miaʻs company for two weeks. I loved hanging out in the kitchen with her. A few more Mama Mia hubs are coming . . . once I go through my notes. Her pasta sauce is not only delicious, it heals the heart and soul. Perhaps the love in a cookʻs heart flows into her hands and into her food, and like any artist uplifts us.

    • profile image

      stessily 5 years ago

      YogaKat, A culinary series on Italian recipes from your bella mama --- che bella idea!

      Excellent pasta sauce! I love the reminiscences of a broomstick rolling pin, of flour on the chin (now that's Italian!), and the thinnest pasta sheets drying on the bed.

      Discernment about tomatoes is essential for clarity in the sauce. A sluggish tomato should be reserved for soup, not for sauce. Also, I love the lycopene in tomatoes, which slows down aging, fights off cancer, and is beneficial to vision. I appreciate that you always note health benefits.

      Appreciatively looking forward to more, Stessily