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Easy Penne Pomodoro Recipe

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This is the best penne pomodoro recipe! This quick and easy dinner is perfect for busy weeknights and it has so much flavor that it’s hard to believe that it’s ready in just 30 minutes. This sauce uses high quality ingredients and lets the classic Italian flavors shine in the best way possible.

If you love pasta as much as we do, be sure to try my orecchiette with sausage, bucatini cacio e pepe, or scallop linguine next time. Like this dish, they are all made with simple ingredients that let the true flavors shine.

Bowl of homemade penne pomodoro with basil and parmesan.

Estimated reading time: 9 minutes

What is Penne Pomodoro?

Pomodoro is a very simple sauce made with olive oil, tomatoes, garlic, fresh basil, and sea salt.

What You’ll Love About Pasta Penne Pomodoro

  • Classic tomato sauce with bright, fresh, and delicious flavors
  • Classic Italian flavors
  • Easy enough to make for a busy weeknight dinner
  • Made with just 5 simple ingredients (plus Parmesan!)
  • Just 5 minutes prep time
  • Just 25 minutes total cook time
  • Naturally vegetarian and vegan
Bowl of penne pomodoro.
Photo Credit: Loren Runion for My Everyday Table.

Ingredients

  • Garlic – Fresh garlic is a must, remember each ingredient shines so it’s important to use fresh!
  • Canned tomatoes – I recommend using San Marzano tomatoes or another high-quality Italian tomato. Look for peeled, whole tomatoes.
  • Olive oil – Again, use high quality olive oil.
  • Basil – Use fresh basil leaves. You can remove it from the pan after you let the sauce simmer, so I leave them whole.
  • Sea salt – Be sure to salt both the sauce AND the pasta water.
  • Penne – Technically you can use many different types of pasta, but since this is a penne al pomodoro recipe, penne noodles are the way to go.
  • Parmesan cheese – I recommend serving the pasta with freshly grated Parmesan, or your favorite vegan Parm for a totally vegan meal.
Ingredients to make penne pomodoro.

How to Make Penne with Pomodoro

This is an overview on how to make penne with pomodoro, the detailed instructions can be found below in the recipe card.

Blend sauce. Blend tomatoes and tomato juices along with garlic cloves in a blender or food processor. You will probably have to do this in batches.

TIP: This is slightly different than many pomodoro recipes, that cook tomatoes and garlic FIRST, then blend. I think it’s easier to blend before cooking so you don’t need to let the sauce cool enough to safely blend. You could however, cook the garlic and tomatoes and then use an immersion blender to blend everything together until smooth.

Peeled tomatoes and garlic in blender.
Cook sauce. Heat olive oil in dutch oven over medium heat and pour in blended tomato mixture. Bring to a boil, then lower to simmer. Season with fresh basil and sea salt and cook for at least 20 minutes.

TIP: Reserve 2 cups of the pomodoro sauce before you add pasta to sauce mixture.

Pomodoro sauce cooking in saucepan.
Boil water. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Generously salt boiling water and pour in penne. Cook until al dente (according to package instructions), reserve a cup of pasta water, and drain pasta.
Sauce pasta. Add cooked pasta into sauce mixture and toss to coat. Add in more pomodoro sauce as desired. Serve pasta with a drizzle of olive oil, freshly grated Parmesan cheese, red pepper flakes, and fresh basil.
Tossing pomodoro with penne pasta.

FAQs

What is the meaning of pomodoro sauce?

Pomodoro, by definition is “tomato” in Italian. “Pomodoro is an Italian food typically prepared with pasta, olive oil, fresh tomatoes, basil, and various other fresh ingredients. It is intended to be a quick and light dish, rather than a dish in a heavy sauce.” – source

What’s the difference between pomodoro and arrabiata?

Pomodoro is a very simple pasta sauce (see ingredients above) and arrabiata is a spicier dish that is also a simple tomato sauce, but also includes red pepper flakes, giving it some spice.

How many calories in penne pomodoro?

The calories in penne pomodoro will vary based on specific recipe, ingredients, and serving size. This specific recipe has an estimated 579 calories per serving.

Bowl of penne pomodoro.
Photo Credit: Loren Runion for My Everyday Table.

Storage Instructions

Store leftover pasta in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.

How to reheat

Reheat pasta in a skillet (covered) over medium-low heat until hot or reheat in the microwave.

Bowl of penne pomodoro.
Photo Credit: Loren Runion for My Everyday Table.

What to Serve with Penne Pomodoro Pasta

All this penne pomodoro pasta needs is an easy salad or veggie side:

How to Feed Penne Pomodoro to the Whole Family

I get it, feeding kids can be tough! But following the Division of Responsibility and knowing your job and your child’s job makes it SO much more enjoyable. You’ll be able to feed your kids any meal, which will help ensure that they are eating a variety of nutritious foods – with plenty of play food sprinkled in.

I would recommend serving the penne pasta pomodoro in a pinch bowl (taster bowl) if it’s a new or learning-to-like it food. Serve the meal with a few items you know your kids will eat, like fruit, milk, and/or bread and butter if they don’t do pasta.

If your kids are still learning to like red sauce, you could leave some pasta plain for them instead of tossing it all with the sauce. You can also really use any type of pasta you like.

Want More?

Follow Emily on Instagram or TikTok for family dinner recipe videos and tips for feeding kids.

Bowl of penne pomodoro with basil and Parmesan cheese.

More Easy Pasta Recipes

If you like this pasta al pomodoro recipe, you might also like some of these easy pasta recipes:

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Bowl of homemade penne pomodoro with basil and parmesan.

Easy Penne Pomodoro Recipe

  • Author: Emily Dingmann of myeverydaytable.com
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Category: Dinner
  • Cuisine: Italian
  • Diet: Vegetarian
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Description

This simple penne pomodoro recipe is made with just 5 basic ingredients and is an easy dinner that you won’t believe is ready in 30 minutes.


Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 228 oz. can peeled San Marzano tomatoes
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/4 oz. fresh basil (about 1/2 cup leaves)
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 16 oz. penne
  • Parmesan cheese for serving

Instructions

  1. Blend garlic and tomatoes (with their juices) until smooth in a blender or food processor. (You may need to do this in batches.)
  2. Heat olive oil in a large sauce pot or dutch oven over medium heat and carefully pour in blended tomato garlic mixture. 
  3. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer. Add basil and sea salt to sauce and let simmer for at least 20 minutes. Remove about 2 cups of sauce to set aside before tossing with pasta.
  4. Meanwhile cook penne pasta according to package instructions.
  5. Drain and add to pomodoro sauce. Toss to coat pasta and serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese. 


Notes

  • Calories are an estimate and do not include Parmesan cheese.

Keywords: penne pomodoro recipe

Food styling and photography by Loren Runion.

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