Salsa alla Capricciosa

Salsa alla Capricciosa

7 Reviews
From: EatingWell Magazine, November/December 2009

This is a beautifully simple, but full-flavored tomato sauce from Lidia Bastianich. Serve over spaghetti or linguine, tossing the cooked pasta with half the sauce and some Grana Padano cheese, serving the rest of the sauce on top and passing more cheese.

Ingredients 24 servings

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Original recipe yields 24 servings
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  • 10 slices bacon or 6 ounces guanciale (see Note), sliced
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 large onions, sliced
  • 9 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 24 pepperoncini (about one 16-ounce jar), stemmed, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 4 28-ounce cans peeled San Marzano tomatoes (see Note)
  • ½ teaspoon salt


  • Active

  • Ready In

  1. Cook bacon (or guanciale) in oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat until lightly browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Add onions and garlic and cook, stirring, over medium heat until very soft, about 10 minutes. Add pepperoncini, tomatoes and salt. Simmer, stirring occasionally and breaking up the tomatoes with a wooden spoon, until thick and saucy, about 1 hour, reducing the heat as necessary to maintain a simmer.
  • Make Ahead Tip: Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 3 months.
  • Notes: Guanciale is unsmoked, air-cured pork jowl, similar to bacon, but fattier and without the smoky flavor. It's used to add subtle, delicious pork flavor to Italian sauces, soups and vegetables. Look for it in Italian markets or online at
  • San Marzano tomatoes are a sweet variety of plum tomatoes with an extra-saucy consistency; they make excellent canned tomatoes. Other whole canned tomatoes can be used in their place, but the flavor will not be as special. Look for San Marzano tomatoes near other whole canned tomatoes in well-stocked supermarkets.

Nutrition information

  • Serving size: ½ cup
  • Per serving: 46 calories; 1 g fat(0 g sat); 1 g fiber; 7 g carbohydrates; 1 g protein; 2 mcg folate; 0 mg cholesterol; 1 g sugars; 19 IU vitamin A; 1 mg vitamin C; 5 mg calcium; 0 mg iron; 334 mg sodium; 18 mg potassium
  • Carbohydrate Servings: ½
  • Exchanges: 1 vegetable, 1 fat

Reviews 7

October 23, 2011
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By: EatingWell User
Easy but Time Consuming I grow san marzanos in my garden so i used my own in the recipe, it was about 7lbs total. Also I do not eat pork, so I used a thick cut "turkey bacon" in this recipe. As for the pepperoncinis, if you use the pre-sliced ones you are going to get A LOT more than if you use the whole ones. I used a whole jar of the whole pepperoncinis, and could barely detect any heat or spice. Also make sure you use yellow onions for their sweetness. The sauce is decent, I deglazed the pan with a little white wine as suggested, after adding the onions. It still needed more sweetness so I added about a tablespoon of sugar which seemed to help. But it is still missing something, herbs maybe. I will add them next time, and use wheat pasta it seems that would be the best pasta for this type of sauce to contrast with the flavors. Pros: San Marzanos, easy Cons: time consuming, bacon
August 21, 2010
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By: EatingWell User
I have made this three times to unanimous rave reviews. My son even made it for his girlfriend's birthday and she loved it. He was surprised how simple it was, too. Kathy
April 27, 2010
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By: EatingWell User
I like a bite to my food, but my husband and son aren't quite as enthusiastic about heat, so I cut the amount of pepperocini when I made this. Still, even I found it too hot. I did like the general flavor, though, and I plan to make it again with even less pepperocini. Re: the tomatoes, I have used San Marzanos for a long time, but I do have to go out of my way a bit to get them. Either in Eating Well or Bon Appetit, a writer recommended Muir Glen Organic Tomatoes, and I find that they also have an excellent flavor. They may be easier to find for some folks.
November 19, 2009
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By: burcham
I loved the idea of canning and freezing this sauce as holiday gifts, so I went the extra mile to special-order guanciale (ordered online) and find an Italian market that sold San Marzano tomatoes. The recipe was really easy, and turned out fabulous, but I plan to make a couple adjustments before my next batch. I agree with another person who commented about how spicy it turned out. We like spicy, but this was too much heat! So I will cut back on the pepperocinis and try a splash of white wine as suggested. There's no question the San Marzano tomatoes are worth the extra effort/expense to obtain. I'm also going to add more guanciale next time. I'm not sure how big a normal "slice" is, and maybe my slices were too small. Overall, a wonderful success!
November 06, 2009
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By: wisweetp
Fantastic sauce. I used ground tomatoes from my local Italian deli since that's what I had on hand and sliced pepperoncini, again because that's what I had. We will make again and again, and we even used as a pizza sauce for deep dish pizza....awesome!
November 04, 2009
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By: EatingWell User
This sauce is great and easy to throw together, a welcome change from traditional marinara. I will caution, however, that unless you really like spicy food, you might want to cut back on the peppers. I am a fan of spice, but using larger cloves of garlic and the recommended amount of peppers, this came out extremely spicy, so I added some white wine for sweetness, which was exactly what the sauce needed. Next time, I plan to deglaze the pan with a splash of white wine before adding the tomatoes. As a note, I had 1 can of regular romas on hand, so I bought 3 cans of San Marzano, and there really is a noticeable difference in the aroma and flavor, so I think it is worth the added expense to use them.
October 24, 2009
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By: EatingWell User
This sauce has a great zing. Although Chef Bastianich recommended a certain type of tomatoes, I used home canned tomatoes and it turned out great. The heat from the peppercinis isn't overwhelming but gives the sauce the perfect bite. The kids and I really enjoyed it.
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