Penne pomodoro is the easiest tomato-based pasta dish you’ll ever cook! Bursting with tomato and basil flavours, pasta al pomodoro is perfect for a quick lunch or even a light dinner.
Aren’t simple pasta sauces just the best? Case in point — this penne pomodoro recipe.
Even though you only need seven ingredients to make it, this pasta sauce is bursting with flavour. Bonus points — it’s ready in just 25 minutes.
To make this tomato pasta recipe, you need some basic ingredients — olive oil, shallots, garlic, tomatoes and fresh basil.
It’s a very simple combination of pantry staples that still results in amazing flavours!
Penne pomodoro is usually made with Parmesan cheese, but you can use a vegetarian hard cheese alternative or even make this pasta pomodoro sauce vegan by using a vegan Parmesan instead. The one from Violife is very close to the real thing.
Why you’ll love this penne pomodoro recipe
- It only takes about 25 minutes to make.
- It’s budget-friendly, yet it tastes like something you’d have at an Italian restaurant.
- You can make it with canned or fresh tomatoes if they’re in season.
What goes into penne al pomodoro
Penne — You can use any other type of pasta you want for this sauce — spaghetti is another popular choice.
Olive oil — Use the best quality extra virgin olive oil you can in this tomato pasta recipe, as it really makes a difference.
Shallot — I like the mild flavour of shallots in this sauce, but white onion works just as well. Just make sure you chop it finely, so it cooks quickly. You can also skip the onion altogether.
Garlic — Freshly minced or sliced garlic is perfect for this sauce. Don’t substitute with jarred garlic or a garlic paste because the flavour just won’t be the same.
Plum tomatoes — I like to make pasta pomodoro sauce using canned plum tomatoes that I crush by hand.
The sauce is also great with fresh tomatoes when in season, but making it with canned tomatoes means you can make it any time of the year.
Plum tomatoes are better than chopped tomatoes in this sauce because they don’t typically have as much liquid.
If using chopped tomatoes, you may need to simmer the sauce for longer until it’s no longer watery.
For an even more pronounced tomato flavour, add one or two tablespoons of tomato paste before stirring in the tomatoes.
Fresh basil — You’ll need at least 8-10 fresh basil leaves for the best flavour. I like the tomato basil combination as is but feel free to add some dried oregano or fresh parsley.
How to make pasta pomodoro
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt it generously and cook the penne al dente according to the timing indicated on the package. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water before draining.
Stir in the plum tomatoes, bring to a simmer and lower the heat. Simmer for 8-10 minutes, then stir in the basil leaves.
Add the cooked pasta to the pan and toss to coat. Add a bit of the reserved pasta water if it looks too thick.
Stir in the Parmesan, season to taste and serve immediately, topped with extra basil or freshly chopped parsley.
Recipe notes and tips
- Pasta pomodoro is best served immediately. If you want to make it ahead, prepare the sauce and add freshly cooked pasta when ready to serve it. The sauce will keep well in the fridge for up to 5 days in an airtight container.
- Some extra you can add to this pasta include veggies like mushrooms, artichokes or zucchini.
- If you’re not a vegetarian, you can add some roasted chicken or shrimp to your pasta pomodoro.
If you liked this penne pomodoro recipe, you might also like some of my other easy pasta recipes:
- Creamy Chicken and Chorizo Pasta
- Creamy Chicken Boursin Pasta
- Easy Creamy Spicy Chicken Pasta
- Cajun Chicken and Shrimp Pasta
- Creamy Rasta Pasta Recipe
- 300 g (10.5 oz) uncooked penne
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium shallot, finely diced
- 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- ¼ teaspoon red chilli flakes
- 2 x 400 g (14 oz) cans plum tomatoes, crushed by hand
- 8-10 fresh basil leaves
- 50 g (¾ cup) freshly grated Parmesan (or vegetarian/vegan hard cheese alternative)
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt it generously and cook the penne al dente according to the timing indicated on the package. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water before draining.
- Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large, deep pan and add the shallot and garlic. Cook over medium heat for 2 minutes until the garlic starts to change its colour and the shallot has softened a bit. Stir in the red chilli flakes.
- Stir in the plum tomatoes, bring to a simmer and lower the heat. Simmer for 8-10 minutes, then stir in the basil leaves.
- Add the cooked pasta to the pan and toss to coat. Add a bit of the reserved pasta water if it looks too thick.
- Stir in the parmesan, season to taste and serve immediately, topped with extra basil or freshly chopped parsley.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 280Total Fat: 11gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 11mgSodium: 313mgCarbohydrates: 36gFiber: 4gSugar: 7gProtein: 10g