Matteo Delle Donne, who came to South Africa more than 60 years ago, does not like fuss. For as long as he can remember, his favourite meal has been spaghetti and tomato sauce. As simple as that. No meat, no cream. Perfectly ripe pomodori rossi (red tomatoes), seasoned and stewed to perfection. This is tomato at its finest. It can be made with any tomato variety, but there are some rules:

Only use red,  completely ripe pomodori rossi, never pomodori verde (green tomatoes).  Don’t keep your tomatoes in the fridge. It dampens their flavour.



  • pomodori rossi, peeled and seeded (For a serving of spaghetti and sauce for two people, anything from 8 to 12 large fresh tomatoes will work. Don’t be scared of cooking up a big batch. The sauce will keep well in the fridge for up to two weeks or even two months in the freezer.)

  • garlic, peeled and crushed (Measure with your heart, the garlic limit does not exist!)

  • fresh herbs of your choice. (Oregano, marjoram, or parsley work well with tomato.)

  • good quality olive oil

  • 40 gram tin of imported tomato paste

  • optional: add fresh chilli to turn this Napoletana into an Arrabiata



  1. Remove the skins and seeds from the tomatoes.
  2. Gently sweat the garlic and herbs of your choice in olive oil until soft and fragrant over medium heat. Be careful not to burn it.
  3. Add the tin of tomato paste now and blend it well with the herbs and garlic.
  4. Add the tomato of your choice, and season with salt. Let it bubble through and then let it simmer to reduce.
  5. The taste of tomato changes as it cooks. Do not season immediately. Let it simmer for at least 10 minutes before you adjust the seasoning.
  6. Do not thicken the sauce with anything – simply reduce it more if you want a thicker sauce.
  7. Once you are happy with the taste and consistency, add a generous glug of olive oil and stir through. The oil further enhances the tomato flavour and will give you a glossy sauce.


  1. Cook your pasta of choice. (Matteo always chooses spaghetti.)
  2. Serve your Pasta Napoletana with shavings of Zandam Local Parmesan or Matteo’s personal favourite, a well-matured Zandam Pecorino!


The best tomatoes are grown in your own garden and vine-ripened. The second best are store-bought, never refrigerated, and home-ripened… but, don’t feel guilty about buying a good quality tomato passata, or whole tinned tomatoes. (Just don’t try this with a tin of tomato and onion “relish”, or anything pre-flavoured.)


Photography by Jeanette Clark



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