Frank Sinatra's Signature Tomato Sauce Is A Fresh And Easy Take On A Classic

Who knew that Frank Sinatra had a signature tomato sauce or even that the beloved star enjoyed spending time in a kitchen? Well, a whole lot of people in the 1970s got a glimpse of those chef proclivities when Sinatra appeared on NBC's hit daytime show starring Dinah Shore. In a "Dinah's Place" episode, the Rat Pack celebrity dished on and dished out his signature tomato sauce, rightfully credited as having come from his Italian-immigrant mother Natalie Della Garaventa, affectionately known as Dolly Sinatra. 

Sinatra's version is a pretty stress-free version of a classic Italian sauce, relying on cans of tomato puree and Italian-style tomatoes, which could include the renowned San Marzano tomatoes from the Agro Sarnese Nocerino region of Southern Italy. Due to volcanic soils from the nearby towering Mount Vesuvius, these tomatoes tend to be sweeter with intense tomato flavors and less acid than other varieties. The exact recipe attributed to Sinatra tends to vary slightly depending on the cookbook or source, but it's generally agreed that the canned tomatoes get pureed in a blender and added later to a pot of emerging ingredients. Onions and minced fresh garlic get sauteed in olive oil on the stovetop, joined by the blended tomatoes and Italian-favorite spices such as parsley, thyme, and black pepper. That's about it — just cook on low for a few minutes and top with crushed red pepper and extra fresh parsley.

Sinatra's legacy goes beyond music

Once you know Sinatra's connection to Italian food, it makes sense when finding photos of him in a chef's hat or seeing his name tied to Italian recipes in magazines and cookbooks, like the 2013 book "Sunday Sauce: When Italian-Americans Cook." He's certainly in good company there, with his spaghetti and meatballs recipe appearing alongside a Sunday gravy from Joe DiMaggio's mama and several recipe incarnations from famous movie scenes, such as a Brooklyn Mob War sauce from "The Godfather" and a Sauce in Prison from "The Goodfellas."

Some of Frank Sinatra's favorite foods were known to be Italian dishes, and he maintained enduring devotion to Italian cooking and restaurants, including the recently reopened La Dolce Vita in Hollywood and Patsy's Italian Restaurant in New York City. Much like his inimitable fame and fan devotion, Sinatra and his mama's tomato sauce recipe is still around — and it's a fresh and easy take on classic Italian saucing.