The Sauces (sugo)

Italian food does not have the classic sauces found in French cuisine. The most important Italian sauces are those used for pasta. In Italy these are not called sauces but sugo. 

I will start with four basic sauce recipes: mayonnaise, Béchamel, Green and Red sauce. Which will come in useful time and time again.

Mayonnaise  (Maionese )

If food is an important part of your life, you should not think of using anything but homemade Mayonnaise. It is also one of the quickest and easiest sauces to make. You can make it a few days in advance and will keep for three or four days in the fridge, but make sure you let it return to room temperature before you use it.

You can make Mayonnaise with olive or vegetable oil the vegetable oil is lighter and more delicate but with fish or BBQ olive oil gives a stronger more robust taste.  You can also use a mix of oils. More recently I have been using Rapeseed oil the bright yellow colour make a great looking and tasting Mayonnaise.

You will need for 300ml (1/2 pint.)

  •     2 free range egg yolks
  •     Sea salt
  •     250 to 300ml of olive oil or vegetable oil 
  •     2 tablespoons of lemon juice.

How to Make:

The most important point to remember when making mayonnaise is to have everything at room temperature nothing should be cold. Leave everything out for an hour before you start or warm things up with some warm water.

First beat the egg yolks in a bowl with a pinch of sea salt until they are pale yellow and have the consistency of cream. 

Once the yolks reach the correct consistency add the oil, drop by drop, while you keep beating. Stop every few seconds to make sure the oil had been absorbed by the yolks. 

Continue adding the oil drop by drop until the sauce becomes quite thick, then thin it with a tablespoon of lemon juice.

Continue to add the oil drop by drop while you beat until all the oil has been used adding the lemon should it get over think. Once all the oil has been used up the Mayonnaise is finished Taste for seasoning and add if required. 

Note: Do not exceed 150ml of oil per egg yolk.

Toni’s Recipes 

Sauces (sugo)


First courses


(Spinach & Ricotta Lasagne)

Second courses


Dolce (Sweet)

Bechamel Sauce (Salsa Balsamella)

Balsamella is one of the easiest and quickest sauces you will ever make. The only problem you could ever have with it is lumps. If you add the milk a little at a time, off the heat, beating the sauce with a wooden spoon you should not have any problems.

You will need for 900ml (1.5 pints)

  •     900ml  organic milk  
  •     120g (4oz) butter      
  •     100g (3.5oz) Plain flour 
  •     Sea salt

How to make:

Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan, when melted add all the flour stirring with a wooden spoon, continue stirring until the flour and butter bubble, let this happen for about 2 minutes this cooks the flour out removing any powdery taste. Do not stop stirring or let the flour colour.

Turn down the heat and add the milk a little at a time stirring constantly, keep adding the milk and stirring until all the milk has used and the sauce had again bubbled.

The sauce should be as thick as double cream, if it is a little to think add some more milk, to thin cook a little longer.

The sauce should be made just before it is needed as when it cools it sets. If made in advance reheat it slowly stirring the whole time.

Season to taste.

Balsamella sauce is an essential ingredient in Lasagne see Recipies.

Contact Big Toni by clicking here:

Return to Recipes

Bechamel Sauce (Salsa Balsamella)

Green sauce (Salsa Verde)

This is a sharp green sauce often served with fish and always served with Bollito misto (see recipes) If you are making it for meat use vinegar for fish use lemon.

You will need for four servings;

  •     2 .5 tablespoons of finely chopped flat leafed parsley
  •     2  tablespoons of finely chopped capers
  •     6 anchovy fillets, crushed.
  •     Clove of garlic very finely chopped
  •     1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
  •     A splash of red wine vinegar or lemon juice if the sauce is for fish
  •     8 tablespoons of olive oil
  •     Sea salt

How to make:

Put everything but the oil and vinegar into a pestle and mortar and bash until everything is a green pulp. (you can do this in a bowl or a food processor)

Add the vinegar or lemon and stir then the olive oil beating it into the other ingredients.

Check seasoning and piquancy. 

It will keep for up to a week in the fridge so you can make it ahead of time.

Red Sauce

Like the green sauce but red. Its slightly mellower and is great with grilled meat and Bollito misto, you can make it before you need it and it keeps for about two weeks in the fridge but you must serve it at room temperature. 

For four servings

    ◆    4 large onions peeled and sliced very thin

    ◆    4 tablespoons of oil      

    ◆    2 red peppers

    ◆    a few drops of   Tabasco 

    ◆    400g tin of Italian tomatoes with juice

How to make:

Cook the onions in a pan in the oil until soft but with no colour.

Skin the peppers (roast directly on the gas ring or blacken with a blow torch  or over a BBQ . Place in a bowl cover with cling film for 5 minuets then peel of skin with your fingers.) You can also buy a jar of pre-roasted red peppers.

Chop the peppers into 15mm slices and add to pan.

When the peppers and onions have reduced by 50% add the tomatoes a few drops of the Tabasco and the salt to taste, cook for 30 minuets until the oil and tomatoes separate.

Serve, or warm and serve if you made it in advance.

Contact Big Toni by clicking here:

Return to Recipes