Tomato Penne Pasta
Tomato Penne Pasta
5 from 1 vote
Tomato Penne Pasta is a delightful dish combining the simplicity of pasta with the rich flavours of tomato and herbs. This classic recipe is perfect for those seeking a quick yet satisfying meal.
Tomato Penne Pasta

Tomato Penne Pasta, a dish as timeless as it is delicious, finds its roots in the heart of Italian cuisine. This recipe is a testament to how a few basic ingredients can transform into a meal that’s both comforting and rich in flavour. The foundation of this dish lies in its simplicity, making it an ideal choice for cooks at any skill level. 

The beauty of Tomato Penne Pasta lies in its versatility. While this recipe presents a classic version, the dish can be adapted in numerous ways.  

Variations might include adding vegetables like spinach or mushrooms, incorporating proteins such as chicken or shrimp, or even experimenting with different herbs for a unique twist. 

The primary ingredient, penne pasta, is chosen for its ability to hold sauce in its ridges, ensuring each bite is as flavourful as the last. The texture of penne, firm yet tender when cooked al dente, complements the smooth, rich tomato sauce. 

The olive oil in the recipe is more than just a cooking medium. Its fruity notes add depth to the dish, enhancing the natural sweetness of the tomatoes. The quality of olive oil used can significantly impact the flavour, so selecting a good quality olive oil is recommended. 

Onions and garlic form the aromatic base of many Italian dishes, and in this recipe, they add layers of flavour. The onion’s sweetness balances the acidity of the tomatoes, while the garlic introduces a mild, nutty taste that’s irreplaceable. 

Canned diced tomatoes are a convenient and consistent option. They provide the sauce’s body and tanginess, crucial to the dish’s character. For a fresher taste, one might substitute with ripe, fresh tomatoes when in season. 

The role of herbs like oregano and basil cannot be understated. These herbs bring a fragrant and earthy element to the dish. While dried herbs are used for their concentrated flavour and convenience, fresh herbs could be used for a more vibrant taste. 

Salt and pepper are essential in bringing out the flavours of the other ingredients. Their addition is crucial to achieving a well-balanced sauce. 

The garnishes – fresh basil and optional Parmesan cheese – add freshness and a salty, umami kick, elevating the dish’s overall taste. 

Tomato Penne Pasta is a delightful concoction that marries the simplicity of pasta with the robustness of a herbed tomato sauce. Its ease of preparation and versatility make it a staple dish that can be enjoyed in countless ways. 

Expert Tip: To enhance the sauce’s flavour, let it simmer for a few minutes longer than suggested. This extra time allows the herbs and tomatoes to meld together, deepening the overall taste. 

What Ingredients to Use & Why

Penne Pasta: Penne, with its tube-like shape and ridges, is perfect for this recipe. It holds onto the tomato sauce beautifully, ensuring that each bite is full of flavour.  

If penne isn’t available, other pasta shapes like rigatoni or fusilli can be great alternatives. They similarly capture the sauce well, making each forkful as delicious as the last. 

Olive Oil: A staple in Italian cooking, olive oil adds a subtle fruitiness to the dish. It’s essential for sautéing the onions and garlic, providing a base layer of flavour. If you’re out of olive oil, a mild vegetable oil can work, but it won’t impart the same depth of flavour. 

Onion: Onion sweetens as it cooks, adding a depth to the sauce. It’s a common ingredient in many sauces for its ability to balance acidity. If you’re not a fan of onion, you could reduce its quantity or replace it with a bit of celery for a different but still delicious flavour profile. 

Garlic: Garlic is key for its pungent, earthy taste, which complements the tomatoes and herbs. Without it, the sauce might taste a bit flat. If fresh garlic isn’t an option, garlic powder can be used in a pinch, but the fresh cloves are preferred for their more complex flavour. 

Canned Diced Tomatoes: These tomatoes are the main ingredient of the sauce, providing acidity and body. Fresh tomatoes can also be used, especially if they’re ripe and in season, for a fresher, more vibrant sauce. 

Dried Oregano and Basil: These herbs add the classic Italian flavour. Dried herbs are more concentrated and less perishable, making them convenient. Fresh herbs could be used for a more intense flavour, especially if added towards the end of cooking. 

Salt and Pepper: Essential for seasoning, they enhance the natural flavours of the other ingredients. They’re simple but crucial for a balanced taste. 

Fresh Basil Leaves (for garnish): Fresh basil adds a bright, peppery finish to the dish. It’s not just decorative; it introduces a fresh flavour contrast to the cooked sauce. If basil isn’t available, parsley can be a fresh alternative. 

Grated Parmesan Cheese (optional for serving): Parmesan adds a salty, nutty element to the pasta. It’s optional but recommended for an extra layer of flavour. If Parmesan isn’t to your liking, other hard cheeses like Pecorino Romano can be a good substitute. 

Expert Tip: If the sauce is too acidic, a small pinch of sugar can balance it out. This trick is especially useful if you’re using canned tomatoes, which can vary in sweetness. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Use Fresh Tomatoes Instead of Canned? 

Absolutely! Fresh tomatoes can be a wonderful alternative to canned, especially when they’re ripe and in season. They’ll give the sauce a fresher, slightly sweeter taste. Just chop them up and cook them down a bit longer than you would the canned ones to reduce the extra liquid. 

Is It Okay to Skip the Cheese? 

Yes, you can skip the cheese if you prefer. The Parmesan adds a nice salty, umami flavour, but the dish will still be delicious without it. If you’re avoiding dairy, you might try a sprinkle of nutritional yeast for a similar cheesy flavour. 

Can I Add Meat to This Dish? 

Definitely! If you’re looking to add protein, ground meat like beef, pork, or even chicken can be a great addition. Cook it in the pan before adding the onions and garlic, and proceed with the rest of the recipe as directed. 

How Can I Make This Dish Vegan? 

To make this dish vegan, simply omit the Parmesan cheese or use a vegan cheese alternative. The rest of the ingredients are plant-based, making this an easy dish to adapt for a vegan diet

Can I Store and Reheat This Pasta? 

Yes, this pasta stores well in the fridge for up to three days. Reheat it in the microwave or on the stovetop, adding a splash of water if the sauce seems too thick. It’s perfect for meal prep or enjoying leftovers the next day. 

Expert Tip: For an al dente texture, cook the penne a minute less than the package instructions. The pasta will continue to cook slightly when mixed with the hot sauce, ensuring it doesn’t become too soft. 

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Tomato Penne Pasta

Tomato Penne Pasta

by Nabeela Kauser
Tomato Penne Pasta is a delightful dish combining the simplicity of pasta with the rich flavours of tomato and herbs. This classic recipe is perfect for those seeking a quick yet satisfying meal. Its simplicity is its charm, appealing to both new cooks and seasoned kitchen hands.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 4
Calories 373 kcal


  • 300 g Pasta Penne
  • 2 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 Onion Finely chopped
  • 2 cloves Garlic Minced
  • 400 g Tomatoes Canned
  • 1 tsp Dried Oregano
  • 1/2 tsp Dried Basil
  • Salt To taste
  • Black Papper To taste
  • Basil For garnish


  • Cook the penne pasta according to the package instructions. Drain and set aside.
  • In a large pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and cook until it becomes translucent, about 5 minutes.
  • Add the minced garlic and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes until fragrant.
  • Stir in the canned diced tomatoes, dried oregano, dried basil, salt, and pepper. Simmer for about 10 minutes, allowing the sauce to thicken.
  • Add the cooked penne pasta to the tomato sauce and toss to combine. Cook for an additional 2-3 minutes to heat the pasta through.
  • Serve the tomato penne pasta garnished with fresh basil leaves. If desired, sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese before serving.


Nutritional facts:
The provision of nutritional information is done so merely as a courtesy and should not be taken as a guarantee.


Calories: 373kcalCarbohydrates: 63gProtein: 11gFat: 8gSaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 11mgPotassium: 460mgFibre: 4gSugar: 6gVitamin A: 843IUVitamin C: 16mgCalcium: 46mgIron: 2mg
Keyword Pasta, Quick, Simple, Tomato, Vegan, Vegetarian
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Cook with Nabeela

Hi, I'm Nabeela!

I love to cook! I want to share with you my favourite, delicious family-friendly recipes. I want to inspire you to create fantastic food for your family every day.

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