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Italian ground meat sauce with tomatoes, garlic and basil in a cast-iron dish

Italian Meat Sauce

Incredible Italian meat sauce for pasta with ground meat and tomatoes. Rosa's classic recipe for one of the most popular Italian recipes ever!
Course Pasta and Rice
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 4
Calories 585kcal
Author Adina


  • Sauce:
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion
  • 500 g/ 1.1 lbs ground meat half beef, half pork
  • 125 ml/ 4.3 fl.oz/ ½ cup milk
  • 1 jar tomato puree pasatta di pomodoro 700-800 g/ 24 oz (Note)
  • 2 whole basil leaves
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • fine sea salt and pepper
  • Flavoring:
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 basil leaves
  • 1 garlic clove
  • pasta and Parmesan for serving


  • Heat the oil in a large skillet. Fry the finely chopped onion until translucent, about 5 minutes.
  • Add the ground meat and break the lumps with a wooden spoon. Turn the heat high, add the milk and stir until most of the liquid has evaporated.
  • Add the tomato puree. Pour about 125 ml/ ½ cup water into the bottle of passata, shake to clean the tomato sauce from the walls of the jar, and pour the water into the pot. Add the whole basil leaves, grated garlic, tomato paste, and some salt and pepper.
  • Bring the sauce to a boil, turn the heat down to medium-low, cover with a lid leaving it a bit ajar and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the lid and continue simmering for about 10 minutes, until the sauce thickens slightly.
  • Add the remaining olive oil, minced garlic and torn basil leaves to the dish while the sauce is still hot and stir well. Cover and let stand for a few minutes to allow the flavors to mingle.
  • If making the sauce in advance, only add the flavorings after reheating, just before serving.
  • Serve with pasta or gnocchi and sprinkle with Parmesan before serving.



It can be replaced with the same amount of tomatoes from a can (without any flavorings or additions) blended with an immersion blender or in a food processor.


Serving: 1/4 of the dish | Calories: 585kcal | Carbohydrates: 24g | Protein: 38g | Fat: 38g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 24g | Cholesterol: 117mg | Sodium: 474mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 11g