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This rigatoni pomodoro pasta is a simple but tasty recipe to make quickly on a busy weeknight. Tangy tomato flavor with a bit of red pepper flakes for a slight kick of spice. Topped with fresh mozzarella cheese and basil leaves.
Pasta is always a crowd pleaser, and is great for leftovers during the week.
- This version of pomodoro pasta uses red pepper flakes which adds a kick of spice, bringing out a bold tomato flavor.
- This recipe uses a handful of basic ingredients that are easy to find, or that you probably already have in your pantry.
- This dish can be made in under 30 minutes from start to finish.
What Is Pomodoro Sauce?
Pomodoro pasta, or pasta al pomodoro is an Italian pasta dish made from tomatoes, olive oil, basil and spices. It is a simple dish that focuses on fresh tomato flavor. Different variations will add in other ingredients. This version adds red pepper flakes for a bit of spice.
Ingredients & Substitutions
- Tomatoes: San Marzano tomatoes are high quality tomatoes that add a lot of flavor to this dish. If you can’t find some, you can use another type of diced tomato.
- Rigatoni: Rigatoni is a slightly curved, tube-shaped pasta. It has ridges along the edge that help to hold onto pasta sauce. If needed, you can use penne, ziti or tortellini as a substitute.
- Spices: This recipe uses oregano, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper for seasoning. If you want a milder version, leave out the red pepper flakes.
- A large pot to boil the pasta in.
- A strainer to strain out the cooked pasta.
- A large saucepan to make the pomodoro sauce in.
Step 1: Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the rigatoni to “al dente” according to the package instructions. Set aside ½ cup of reserved pasta water.
Step 2: Add the olive oil to a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and salt. Sauté the onions for 3 to 4 minutes until they are soft and translucent.
Step 3: Add in the garlic and cook for 1 to 2 minutes until fragrant.
Step 4: Add the blended tomatoes, oregano, red pepper flakes and pepper. Bring the mixture to a simmer. Reduce the heat and continue to simmer on low for 20 to 25 minutes until the sauce thickens up.
Step 5: If needed, add reserved pasta water, 1 tablespoon at a time, to loosen up the pasta sauce.
Step 6: Add in the cooked rigatoni pasta, stirring to coat each piece. Serve immediately, topped with fresh basil leaves and chunks of mozzarella cheese.
- Blend or purée the diced tomatoes in a blender or food processor with their juices.
- Don’t overcook the pasta. Cook the pasta to “al dente”, according to the package instructions. Overcooking the pasta will cause it to be mushier.
- Don’t forget to reserve some pasta water while cooking the pasta. Once the sauce has simmered, it may have thickened up too much. Add small spoonfuls at a time to make a smoother consistency.
- For a low carb version, serve this spicy pomodoro sauce over homemade zucchini noodles.
- For a creamy variation, add in 4 to 6 tablespoons of heavy cream at the same time as you add in the blended tomatoes.
- To make this pasta dish healthier, mix in some sauteed vegetables, such as mushrooms or broccoli.
- If you love burrata, serve this pasta with fresh burrata on top, instead of mozzarella.
Storage & Reheating
- Fridge: Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Reheat in the microwave or on a saucepan until warmed throughout.
- Freezer: Don’t freeze the pasta with the sauce already added. Freeze only the sauce in a freezer safe container or ziploc bag for up to 2 to 3 months. Defrost in the fridge overnight. Reheat the sauce on a saucepan over medium heat until warmed throughout. Add the sauce to freshly cooked pasta
Both pomodoro and marinara are tomato-based sauces. However, marinara sauce is slightly chunkier and more liquidy. Pomodoro sauce is smoother and thicker because it breaks down as it simmers over a longer period of time.
“Pomodoro” means “tomato” in Italian.