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Penne Pomodoro in white and black striped bowl with basil

The Best Penne Pomodoro

  • Author: Gianna Nebbia
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Category: Side Dish, pasta, main course, appetizer
  • Method: Pasta water, pasta, tomato sauce
  • Cuisine: Italian


Pasta al Pomodoro or "tomato pasta" is a simple, classic Italian pasta dish that everyone should know how to make. 


  • 1 pound of penne pasta (or your favorite pasta shape)
  • 1 28-oz can of whole tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
  • 4 cloves of garlic, 3 sliced and 1 grated
  • 2 dried chiles de arbol, seeds removed
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of butter 
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 6 basil leaves, sliced


  1. Heat a sauté pan with olive oil and sauté the sliced garlic and chiles de arbol for 1-2 minutes. Don't let the garlic burn as burnt garlic has an unpleasant flavor that will permeate into the sauce. As soon as it starts to turn golden, add the tomato paste and sauté 1-2 minutes longer until the tomato paste turns deep red and starts to stick to the pan. 
  2. Add the can of tomatoes, and break each tomato in half with a spatula. Bring the sauce and halved tomatoes to a boil, cover (partially vented) and reduce to simmer for a total of 35 minutes. After the first 10 minutes, when the tomatoes have softened significantly, use a potato masher to fully break them up. When the sauce has just 5 minutes left, stir in the salt, butter, and a small clove of freshly grated garlic to the sauce. 
  3. Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to a boil and salt it with enough salt to taste just a little salty, like soup.  About 8 minutes before the sauce is done cooking, add your pasta. 
  4. When the sauce and pasta are done cooking (pasta should be al dente), transfer the cooked pasta to the sauce along with about 1/2 cup of pasta water. Stir for about 1 minute until the sauce thickens a little and clings to the pasta. 
  5. Serve and top with fresh basil. 

Keywords: Penne Pomodoro, Penne pomodoro recipe, penne al pomodoro, pomodoro sauce

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