Loretta Sebastiani

Loretta Sebastiani
logo twitter   logo facebook   loco pinterest

Hot red sauce, Piedmont-style
( Salsa rossa alla piemontese )

Authentic Italian recipe of Piedmont

Red hot sauce, Piedmont-style also known as rubra sauce (bagnet ross) is similar to tomato ketchup but it is handmade and healthier as it has no sugar! It's perfect to accompany assorted boiled meat and it's a typical Italian hot sauce. The ingredients to make it are: ripe tomatoes, celery, parsley, vinegar, hot red peppers and mustard.

difficulty: easy

time: 110 minutes

calories: 41 (kCal)

Ingredients / Serves 6

  • 1 kg (2.2 lb) ripe but firm tomatoes
  • 2 hot red peppers
  • Bunch of fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 stalk of celery
  • 2 Tbsp mustard
  • 1 glass of vinegar
  • Salt
easy recipe
preparation: 20 minutes
cooking: at least 90 minutes
total: 110 minutes
How many calories in a serving?
Calories: 41 (kcal) 3 % - 170 (kJ)
Protein: 2.4 (g) 5 % GDA
Total fat: 0.8 (g) 2 % GDA
Total carbohydrate: 6.4 (g) 3 % GDA
Sugars: 6.2 (g) 7 % GDA

Download free PDF version (185 download).

Italian hot red sauce or rubra sauce recipe


  • - Plunge the whole tomatoes into boiling water for a minute to peel them better.
  • - Clean and wash the hot peppers, parsley and celery.
  • - Let the tomatoes cool and peel them.
  • - Chop finely the tomato pulp together with the other vegetables.
  • - Place the chopped vegetables in a saucepan together with the mustard and vinegar.
    Season to taste with salt and stir.


  • - Bring to the boil.
  • - Reduce the heat and simmer, half-covered, for at least 90 minutes.
    Stir now and then.
  • - Let it cool and purée or blend.

Just before serving

  • - Warm it up just before serving

Tips and menu planning

  • - You can prepare this tomato red sauce some hours ahead or the day before and warm it just before serving.
  • - Serve this sauce with boiled meat.
  • - It's tasty if served cold too. In fact we used it for preparing a tasty rice salad.
  • - If you have no ripe tomatoes, you can also use canned peeled tomatoes and so this is an Italian tomato hot sauce you can prepare all year round.

Healthy eating

  • - The Piedmontese hot red sauce (salsa rubra or bagnet ross) is a very low-calorie and low-fat recipe that accompanies boiled meats very well. It is perfect with boiled meats not only for its taste but for its nutrition properties too. Continue reading if you're interested in healthy eating ...
  • - The main ingredient is ripe tomato very rich in lycopene (50 mg/kg ), a powerful antioxidant. The bioavailability of lycopene in cooked tomato is sometimes even higher than in raw tomatoes.
    The lycopene is one of the 600 carotenoids found in nature. Only a limited number of carotenoids are present in our foods and the lycopene is one of the few to cross the intestinal barrier.
    The first question is: how can the lycopene get through the intestinal barrier?
    The lycopene is a lipophilic substance that has affinity for fats. In the intestine, in the presence of bile acids, the lycopene is dissolved, incorporated into micelles and then passes through the intestinal wall for passive transport. In practical terms what I've just written has a precise meaning: to get the best absorption of lycopene you must combine the tomatoes with fats. The presence of fat in the food (in the right amount) stimulates the production of bile salts which, as we have seen, starts the process of of the lycopene absorption.
    The second question is: what is the biological role of the carotenoids and lycopene in particular?
    The carotenoids are powerful antioxidants and then sweep away, in the true sense of the word, the free radicals. The lycopene is perhaps the most efficient.
    Furthermore, the carotenoids and lycopene have a declared anti-cancer action, nowadays documented by many studies.
    In particular, the lycopene appears to play a protective action on the prostate in men and seems to block the growth of breast cancer cells in women too
    Many other studies are in progress on other tissues and organ systems.
    Everything you've just read are not good reasons to eat tomatoes, foods seasoned with tomato sauce and follow our tasty and healthy Mediterranean diet?
    In the specific case of this Piedmontese red sauce accompany it with food in which fat is present.
    In fact people in Piedmont have always served it with boiled meat, food rich in fat!
  • - Total fat is practically absent because there is no oil or butter.
  • - This is a handmade tomato ketchup healthier than the same industrial product for the total absence of sugar.

Rubra or Italian red sauce history

The Piedmontese red sauce or red salsa is the Italian version of one of the most famous sauce in the world: the much-loved ketchup.
Ah, therefore your red sauce would be the tasty sauce we sprinkle on the top of potato chips or use to prepare the pink sauce. Our tomato ketchup! So you Italians had copied us Americans, are you? - could you Americans tell.
Yes and not because it seems the word ketchup derives from the Malay Kecapi. ???
The story becomes more and more intricate!
But what's the Kecapi? The Kecapi is very ancient. It does not seem to have any similarities with the red sauce if it is true it's a sauce made of fermented fish.
So what?
In fact, the Kecapi was brought to Europe in 1600 thanks to Dutch and Genoese sailors. From that moment it is destined to undergo many changes. The most famous chefs enjoyed using bizarre ingredients including oysters and mushrooms.
In 1700 it reached USA where the main ingredient became the tomato. Finally here's the tomato ketchup! Wait, wait ...
It's only in 1812 that James Mease of Philadelphia created the first tomato ketchup.
But you Americans had to wait until 1872 to have the real ketchup with not only tomatoes but vinegar, onions, sugar and assorted spices too.
Well, but how is this story linked to the Italian red sauce? The answer is very simple but we must turn back the fascist era. Mussolini did not like foreign words and then when  tomato ketchup was known in Italy it was necessary to find an  "italic" name. The hypocrisy of the moment ... the recipe was accepted, although further modified, but not the name!
It was proposed to call the modified American ketchup salsa rubra or salsa Vesuvio (Vesuvio near Naples is the symbol of Italian cuisine based on tomato). Salsa rubra won and so the mistery is revealed!