The penne pomodoro recipe is straightforward and doesn’t involve complicated cooking techniques. It’s perfect for a busy weeknight when you want a satisfying meal without spending hours in the kitchen.

Penne pomodoro is an Italian popular recipe that consist of small penne pasta coated with a simple tomato and basil sauce. Penne is the name for the type of pasta used and pomodoro means tomato in English.

This dish comes together in just 20 minutes which make it perfect to enjoy as a quick lunch or dinner for busy days. The ingredients are simple, but focus on quality to deliver the best flavor!

Close-up of penne pomodoro.

Ingredients

  • Pasta: To make this recipe you need penne pasta which has a cylinder-shaped format that is perfect to hold up the tomato sauce.
  • Tomato sauce: Canned tomato is the most popular choice and allows you to make this recipe all year round.
  • Onion: To balance the acidic flavor of tomatoes, and to add some texture, chopped white onions make a base for the sauce.
  • Basil: Use fresh basil if possible, in a pinch, you can use dried basil too.
  • Oil: Preferably extra virgin olive oil.
  • Seasonings: Garlic, salt, and pepper to your liking. For a spicy kick, add some chili flakes too.
  • Cheese: Use freshly grated Parmigiano cheese for serving.
Ingredients for penne pomodoro with names on a concrete surface.

How to Make Penne Pomodoro

First, place a pot filled with water over high heat and bring to a boil. While you wait for the water to boil, start with the pomodoro sauce.

Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and stir for about 2-3 minutes or until the onions start to brown.

Onion and garlic slightly browned in a pan.

Pour in the tomato sauce and season with salt and pepper. Mix well and bring the sauce to a simmer.

Cook the sauce over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes.

Pomodoro sauce in a pan to make penne pomodoro.

Meanwhile, add salt to the boiling water and cook the pasta according to the package instructions.

When the tomato sauce has thickened to your liking, adjust with salt and pepper then turn off the heat. Mix in the basil leaves tearing them with your hands.

Tomato sauce with fresh basil in a pan.

Drain the penne pasta and add them to the pan with the pomodoro and basil sauce. Mix thoroughly to coat well the pasta.

Penne pasta mixed with pomodoro sauce in a pan.

Add some parmigiano cheese and give it a quick mix. Serve immediately with more parmigiano cheese and fresh basil on top.

Recipe Notes And Tips

  • The quality of canned tomatoes you use for this recipe will reflect the flavor. Try to use a brand that you know and like.
  • You can use whole canned San Marzano tomatoes and then blend them in a food processor to make the sauce.
  • Place the water as the first thing when making this recipe, the sauce comes together in just over 10 minutes, enough time to cook your pasta and have it ready to add to the sauce right away.
  • You can also reserve and use some pasta water to add to the sauce if needed.
  • There is two types of penne pasta, one is called penne rigate because it has small ridges on the surface which are supposed to help the sauce to stick better on the pasta. The other kind is the one named penne lisce which have a smooth texture.
  • If you don’t have penne pasta, you still can make this recipe. Just use any pasta format you have available. Rigatoni is a good substitute.
  • Other fresh herbs (or dried) that go perfectly with penne pomodoro pasta are oregano, parsley, or thyme.
  • Add some veggies for a change. Sautéed zucchini, eggplant, or mushrooms are perfect.
Penne pomodoro e basilico in a plate.

Serving Suggestions

Because of its simplicity, penne pomodoro is usually served as a primo piatto, the course that comes before the main dish. However, since it’s so easy to make, this dish is a favorite in Italy for lunch at small restaurants.

If you want to serve as first course, try pairing it with polpette or Valdostana chicken.

If you want to serve for dinner, I recommend pairing with a glass of wine such as Fiano di Avellino, Biferno Bianco Gironia, or a Frascati Superiore Secco, all wonderful choices for this dish.

Store and Reheat

Penne pomodoro comes together in so little time and it taste better freshly made. However, if you have leftovers you can transfer them to an airtight container and store in the fridge for up to 3-4 days.

Leftovers can be also repurposed to make a frittata!

The simple pomodoro sauce can be made ahead and store in the fridge for 3-4 days, or it can be frozen for up to 2 months.

when ready to enjoy penne pomodoro, just thaw the sauce and reheat in a pan with a splash of water, then use it to coat your penne pasta.

More Pasta Recipes

Video

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Penne pomodoro recipe.

Penne Pomodoro

2 servings
Small penne pasta coated in a simple and flavorful tomato and basil sauce makes this dish one of the best options to serve any day of the week.
prep 5 minutes
cook 15 minutes
total 20 minutes

Ingredients 

  • 7 oz penne pasta
  • 1 ¾ cups canned tomato sauce (simple, not seasoned)
  • cup onion (chopped)
  • fresh basil leaves (as much as you want)
  • 2 ½ tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper (to taste)

Instructions
 

  • Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium-low heat.
  • Add the onion and garlic and cook for about 3 minutes or until the onions start to brown.
  • Pour in the tomato sauce and season with salt and pepper.
  • Mix well and bring the sauce to a simmer. Allow cooking for 10 minutes mixing from time to time.
  • Meanwhile, cook the penne pasta as per instructions in the package.
  • As the pomodoro sauce is finishing the cooking, adjust the seasonings, add basil and mix quickly, then turn off the heat.
  • Drain the penne pasta and add them to the pan with the sauce.
  • Add more basil leaves if you want, a good sprinkle of parmigiano, and mix well to coat.
  • Serve immediately.

Notes

  • If possible, try to use the best quality of canned tomatoes you can find.
  • Use whole canned San Marzano tomatoes if you want, just blend them first or crush them in the pan with a potato masher.
  • The sauce comes together in just over 10 minutes, enough time to cook your pasta and have it ready to add to the sauce right away.
  • You can also reserve and use some pasta water to add to the sauce if needed.
  • If you don’t have penne pasta, you still can make this recipe. Just use any pasta format you have available. Rigatoni is a good substitute.
  • Other fresh herbs (or dried) that go perfectly with this pasta recipe are oregano, parsley, and thyme.
  • You can add some vegetables like zucchini, eggplants, or mushrooms.
Nutrition Information
Serving: 1 serving | Calories: 585kcal | Carbohydrates: 88g | Protein: 16g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 13g | Sodium: 3349mg | Potassium: 898mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 929IU | Vitamin C: 17mg | Calcium: 59mg | Iron: 4mg
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Maricruz Avalos Flores is a Mexican cook and photographer living in Italy where she shares authentic Mexican & Italian recipes that can be easily made at home using easy-to-find ingredients.

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Recipe Rating




3 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I truly loved this penne pomodoro recipe. It was easy for sure! I was on a trip to Italy 3 years ago and fell in love with this amazing dish, is delicious even if it is so simple. I tried many times to replicate it at home but with not success, until I learned the name and could easily find authentic recipes. I gave your recipe a chance and I wasn’t disappointed, really, thank you to making it this easy!

  2. Hi. Thank you for posting the recipe for the Uchepo’s. My aunt Cuca whom past away (is from Tepames, Michoacan) four months ago use to make them for us. They were the best I ever had and I wish she would have taught my mother so that I could have learned. I will try your recipe.
    I did learn how to make her Mexican rice pudding which is so delicious.
    Thank you.

    1. You’re welcome. Sorry for your lost, I hope you can make uchepos at home so they will remind you about your aunt.