This super easy Penne al Pomodoro recipe is prepped in minutes, no chopping required! The whole family will love the delicious flavors in this simple tomato sauce - making it the ideal dinner for busy weeknights.
So what is penne pomodoro? Pomodoro is a simple tomato sauce that can be made in minutes, perfect for busy families. I've served the sauce with penne pasta, but you can use any shape pasta noodle.
Simple pasta sauces like this one, appear regularly in my weekly meal planning for the family. I will often double the recipe and freeze a batch for a really quick and easy meal another night.
Pomodoro sauce is the ultimate kid friendly tomato sauce for pasta since it has no 'bits'. It's also flavored with basil but you can remove the herbs before serving.
- Why You'll Love This Penne al Pomodoro recipe
- Pasta al Pomodoro Recipe Ingredients
- How to Make Penne al Pomodoro - Step-By-Step
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Variations & Substitutions for Penne Pomodoro
- Tips & Tricks For Making Penne Pomodoro
- Pin This Penne Pomodoro Recipe For Later
- What Do You Think?!
- More Under 30 Minute Recipe Ideas
- Printable Recipe
- Penne Pomodoro
- Reader Comments & Ratings
Why You'll Love This Penne al Pomodoro recipe
- Taking only 5 minutes prep time, this easy pasta recipe can be cooked and on the table in 30 minutes
- For a gluten free penne al pomodoro swap regular pasta for a gluten free alternative.
- This recipe is easily doubled or trebled if you are feeding a crowd.
- Try some of my favorite delicious pasta recipes:
Pasta al Pomodoro Recipe Ingredients
Find the full list and quantities in the recipe below.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil - As always with a simple Italian pasta dish, its worth using good olive oil.
Garlic - Fresh garlic is the best way to create the flavor base of this traditional Italian dish.
Penne - I've used penne, but feel free to use any other shape of pasta noodle.
Tomatoes - I have used crushed tomatoes (passata in the UK). However, if you only have whole or diced canned tomatoes that's not a problem - just use a blender or immersion blender to liquify them. You could also use ripe fresh tomatoes and again just blend them until smooth.
Basil - I always use fresh basil as it has the best flavor.
How to Make Penne al Pomodoro - Step-By-Step
Find the full printable recipe below.
Add the olive oil to a large skillet or Dutch oven on a medium heat, add the minced garlic and stir for a minute until fragrant.
Immediately add the crushed tomatoes then stir in the basil stems and leaves along with the sugar.
Bring the sauce to a boil then turn the heat down so the sauce is just simmering. Cook for around 20 minutes, stirring occasionally as the sauce starts to thicken and the flavor develops.
Meanwhile cook the penne pasta until al dente in salted boiling water according to packet instructions. Once cooked drain and reserve 1 cup of the pasta water.
Stir the butter through the sauce for added richness then remove the basil leaves which have been used to flavor the sauce.
Tip the penne into the pan with the sauce and toss, mixing well, so all the pasta is coated in sauce.
If you need to loosen the sauce, add a splash or two of the reserved pasta water.
Serve immediately, with freshly grated Parmesan Cheese and extra fresh basil leaves.
Frequently Asked Questions
What does Pomodoro mean?
Pomodoro is an Italian word for tomato. So, used for sauces made from tomatoes; " al pomodoro" means "with tomatoes".
Is Penne Pomodoro an authentic Italian dish?
Yes, pasta al pomodoro is a recipe that was created in Naples, in southern Italy.
What kind of canned tomatoes are best to use for Pomodoro?
You can use any good quality canned tomatoes, either plum or chopped. San Marzano are my favorite and have a wonderful mellow flavor. However, if you want a smooth sauce you might want to blend them first, or use crushed tomatoes (passata) like I have in this recipe.
Variations & Substitutions for Penne Pomodoro
- I've used penne pasta, but you could use any type of pasta with this simple tomato sauce.
- For extra richness add a splash of heavy cream or stir through a spoonful of mascarpone.
- I've added fresh basil which I leave whole for flavor then remove for the kids. However, I like to serve the pasta with some basil leaves alongside, for those who like to add it fresh.
- This sauce can be easily adapted to include other flavors. For example if you like spicy food stir through some fresh chili or red pepper flakes.
- You can also try it with other Italian fresh herbs, like oregano or marjoram.
Tips & Tricks For Making Penne Pomodoro
- Take time to check the seasoning before you serve, and adjust if necessary, as salt helps bring out the natural flavors in tomatoes.
- I always like to hold back some of the starchy pasta water. It can be used to make the pasta sauce the right consistency as well as helping to coat the pasta in the sauce.
- This sauce is easily doubled up, enjoy some now and freeze the rest for a quick and easy dinner another night.
- To make gluten free penne al pomodoro, use a gluten free pasta. Lentil pasta, chickpea pasta or quinoa pasta are great alternatives.
How To Serve Penne al Pomodoro
I will often add some crusty bread to the table, and garlic bread is always popular with the kids. A dressed green salad or some green beans are also ideal vegetable sides.
How To Reheat Penne al Pomodoro?
Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator and use within 3-4 days.
To re-heat, place the pasta in a saucepan, add a splash of water to loosen if needed, and place over a medium heat to warm to piping hot.
How to Freeze Pomodoro Sauce?
The tomato pomodoro sauce freezes really well. Once cooked, allow to cool completely, then place the sauce into an airtight container and store in the freezer for us to 3 months. This sauce can be reheated from frozen.
I don't recommend freezing the pasta, as pasta can break down during the freezing and defrosting process. So freeze the sauce and cook the pasta fresh every time.
Pin This Penne Pomodoro Recipe For Later
What Do You Think?!
I'd love to know what you think about this recipe! I'd be so grateful if you scroll down to the bottom of the page and leave a star rating and comment.
Don't forget to go over to Facebook and Instagram and make sure you're following me so you can join in the chat. And remember to save this recipe to your Pinterest too!
More Under 30 Minute Recipe Ideas
- 3 tbsp Olive Oil
- 3 cloves Garlic - minced
- 32 oz Canned Crushed Tomatoes - or blitz regular tomatoes
- 2 stems Fresh Basil - plus extra for garnish
- 1 pinch Sugar
- 12 oz Penne Pasta
- 2 tbsp Butter
- ½ cup Grated Parmesan Cheese or Vegetarian Alternative
- Add the olive oil to a large skillet or Dutch oven on a medium heat.
- Add the minced garlic and stir for a minute until fragrant
- Immediately add the crushed tomatoes.
- Stir in the basil stems and leaves along with the sugar.
- Bring the sauce to a boil then turn the heat down so the sauce is just simmering.
- Cook for around 20 minutes, stirring occasionally as the sauce starts to thicken and the flavor develops.
- Meanwhile cook the penne pasta until al dente in salted boiling water according to packet instructions.
- Once cooked drain and reserve 1 cup of the pasta water.
- Stir the butter through the sauce for added richness.
- Remove the basil leaves which have been used to flavor the sauce.
- Next tip the penne into the pan with the sauce and toss, mixing well, so all the pasta is coated in sauce.
- If you need to loosen the sauce, add a splash or two of the reserved pasta water.
- Serve immediately, with freshly grated parmesan and extra fresh basil leaves.
Elizabeth S says
This was such a simple dinner! We could not get enough and it was so delicious. I doubled the garlic and added some freshly cracked black pepper. Will definitely be making this again!
Jo Keohane says
Thank you so much Elizabeth, delighted to hear you liked this so much!
Such a popular recipe with my kids and quick to make. All ingredients were in my pantry already.
Jo Keohane says
My kids love this one too! Thanks Vladka!
I love how easy these are to make! I always have a few boxes of penne in my pantry, and it's nice to be able to whip up something like this when I don't want to spend a lot of time cooking.
Jo Keohane says
Glad to help Jane! Thank you for the feedback.
I recently tried this Penne al Pomodoro for our dinner, and it quickly became my husband's favorite! It's easy to make, and the tomato sauce? It bursts with delicious flavors! I will cook this again over the weekends!
Jo Keohane says
So happy to hear you loved it! Thank you Janice!
Yes, the perfect comfort food. I absolutely love that I don't have to stand over the counter chopping, which makes clean up that much easier.
Jo Keohane says
So true! Thank you so much Jessica.