Penne pomodoro is a fantastic recipe to prepare when a light pasta dish with bright flavors sounds enticing. Brimming with diced tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, fresh parsley and basil, a bowl of this scrumptious pasta is made even more delicious when topped with a spoonful of light lemony ricotta for a slightly creamy finish!
Penne Pomodoro, a Light and Flavorful Bowl of Pasta
I take such pleasure in a simply prepared bowl of hot pasta made with lots of love yet only a handful of good quality ingredients…
A deliciously flavorful yet light pomodoro sauce kissed with garlic, olive oil, fresh parsley and basil is a favorite, and made into a complete meal when warm, tender penne pasta is added into the pan and made slick with those bright, zesty flavors and perhaps an extra little drizzle of olive oil.
Penne pomodoro is a fantastic recipe to prepare when a simple yet cozy and warming meal is what you’re hungry for. It’s a classic home style pasta dish filled with lots of slow-simmered flavor yet served up and in your bowl, ready to be enjoyed, in as little as twenty minutes.
It’s the perfect light and flavorful meal that’s made just a little extra special with a garnish of cool and creamy lemony ricotta, perfect to indulge in and comfort the soul with.
How to Make Penne Pomodoro
The word “pomodoro” is an Italian word meaning tomato, and a classic pomodoro sauce is just what it sounds like: a tomato sauce.
Typically, a pomodoro sauce is prepared with fresh tomatoes, which if in season, are terrific to use.
But since tomatoes are at their best during the hotter months, and not necessarily all that sweet, ripe and juicy during the colder months, I actually prefer to prepare my pomodoro sauce using organic canned diced tomatoes along with their juices.
This way, the sauce is consistent in flavor and texture, as good quality canned tomatoes are prepared and packed at the peak of their freshness.
Other ingredients that I like to include in my sauce are lots of garlic, good olive oil, some finely diced onion, a pinch of red pepper flakes, a tiny sprinkle of sugar, and a flourish of freshly chopped parsley and basil added in at the end for robust, fresh flavor.
And to create a hint of creaminess, I prepare a little side of ricotta that I blend with a kiss of lemon and herbs, to spoon atop of individual bowls of penne pomodoro as a tasty garnish. This is optional, but I highly recommend this as it adds a little depth and balance.
Here’s a glance at the steps for preparing my penne pomodoro recipe: (or just jump to the full recipe…)
- To prepare my pomodoro sauce, I add some olive oil to the pan and once hot, add in my onion; once softened, I add my garlic, followed by the tomatoes and some seasoning.
- The sauce simmers for roughly 15 minutes, then is finished with a small kiss of sugar, and the fresh herbs.
- While the sauce simmers, I combine some ricotta cheese with a bit of lemon zest, herbs and seasoning to create my ricotta topping, and keep it cold until ready to serve.
- To finish the penne pomodoro, some warm, cooked penne pasta is added directly to the pan with the pomodoro sauce, and the two are combined to incorporate; and to serve, I spoon the penne into bowls and garnish with a spoonful of the lemony ricotta.
by Ingrid Beer
Yield: Serves 4
Nutrition Info: 405 calories per serving
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Total time: 35 minutes
Penne Pomodoro Ingredients:
- Olive oil
- 1 small onion, finely diced
- 6 cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press
- 1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes, with juice
- Black pepper
- Pinch red pepper flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 1 tablespoon julienned basil
- 8 ounces (roughly half a package) dry penne pasta, cooked according to package instructions, warm
- Parmesan cheese, for garnish
Lemon Herb Ricotta Ingredients:
- 1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
- Pinch salt
- Pinch black pepper
- Place a large saute pan or skillet over medium-high heat, and drizzle in about 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil; once hot, add in the onion, and saute it for a few minutes until it begins to become a light, golden-brown.
- Add in the garlic and stir, and once it becomes aromatic, add in the diced tomatoes, along with about 1 teaspoon of salt, a pinch or two black pepper, and the pinch of red pepper flakes, and stir to incorporate; cover the pan/skillet, and allow the sauce to simmer gently on low for 15 minutes.
- While the sauce simmers, prepare the lemon herb ricotta, if using: add all ingredients to a small bowl, and carefully fold them together just until combined (take care not to over mix to keep the integrity of the ricotta); keep in a covered container in fridge until ready to use.
- To finish the pomodoro sauce, stir in the sugar, the chopped parsley and the julienned basil, plus check to see if additional salt and pepper is needed; then, add in your warm, cooked penne and toss to combine; add in a drizzle of olive oil, and spoon into bowls.
- Garnish/top with a couple of generous tablespoons of the lemon herb ricotta, plus some parmesan cheese, if desired.
Tips & Tidbits for my Penne Pomodoro:
- Good quality canned tomatoes: To keep consistency, I opt for organic, canned diced tomatoes for my pomodoro sauce. This way, I can enjoy pomodoro year round, even when fresh tomatoes aren’t all that sweet, ripe or flavorful. However, you can certainly substitute fresh tomatoes when in season, if you prefer, using roughly 3 ½ cups of freshly diced tomatoes.
- Penne pasta, or other options: Penne is one of our favorite types of pasta, so I choose that when preparing this pomodoro recipe since the delicious sauce makes its way inside of the tubes. However, other great options are spaghetti, linguini, bowtie, or corkscrew pasta.
- Lemon herb ricotta, a touch of creaminess: My little garnish of lemon herb ricotta is so easy to mix up and have on hand to top the penne pomodoro with. It offers a bit of cool creaminess, and some balance to the bright flavors. You can leave it out of the recipe if you prefer, but it’s quite delicious!
Cook’s Note: This recipe was originally published in 2015, and has been updated with even more love!