TOMATO AND HERBS PENNE PASTA

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The classic Penne pasta cooked with ripe, red tomatoes and flavored with herbs is the perfect lunch for lazy afternoons or busy nights.

The trinity of pasta, tomatoes, and herbs is brought together to create this tried and tested bowl of magic. It is easy, healthy, and delicious. Ready in under 20 minutes, it is a perfect one-pan meal. 


The tomato and herbs penne pasta is a no-fuss vegetarian dish that can be easily converted into a gluten-free meal. Just use gluten-free pasta! Adults and kids love this pasta alike, and it requires simple ingredients that are readily available in your pantry.


This simple dish is my savior on the days I have a ton of things to do and deadlines to beat. In case you are wondering, I am not a big fan of takeouts. I like to cook my meals, no matter how busy I am. I nearly always have tomatoes in my fridge and pasta and dried herbs in my pantry, and it is a short trip into the garden to pick some of the fresh herbs too. So you see, making this pasta is too easy after all!


I am forever intrigued by the journey of food, so while making the pasta, I could not help wondering about its origin. I dug up a bit and found some interesting facts worth sharing.


What is Penne Pasta?


Penne is a short pasta tube popular throughout Italy and abroad. This versatile pasta shape was invented in Liguria and used in different pasta recipes. Penne complements with virtually every sauce. It tastes exceptional when paired with a chunky sauce. It also pairs well with chunky meat, chunky vegetable, or cream. The shape of the penne pasta is well suited for baking dishes.


What does Penne mean?


Penne translates to the word pen and gets its name from its shape that resembles the nib of an old fashioned pen or quill. This naming convention is not at all surprising, given that most kinds of pasta are named after things they look similar to. For example, farfalle means butterflies in English, and conchiglie means shells. 


How did penne pasta come into existence?


On March 11, 1865, pasta maker Giovanni Battista Capurro, from San Martino D’Albano near Genoa, successfully patented a machine capable of cutting pasta diagonally without breaking it. Until then, pasta was cut with scissors, by hand, a method that, in addition to being too slow and costly, resulted in irregular, jagged ends. Penne pasta went on to become an overnight sensation and continues to be the most popular form of pasta, second only to spaghetti.


What is the difference between Rigate and Lisce penne pasta?


Rigate pasta has grooves on the surface of each penna, while Lisce pasta is smooth. Rigate is preferred because they remain firm to the bite, and their porosity facilitates the combination with the sauce. Penne lisce is thinner and less porous.


ABOUT THE RECIPE


The tomato and herbs Penne pasta is a super easy and delicious Italian inspired pasta that is low in fat and flavored with fresh herbs. This recipe is great for quick lunch or dinner. 


The tanginess from the sweet and tart tomatoes and subtle flavor of the herbs, combined with a hint of grated cheese, is a killer combination. The taste hits the spot, comforting and quick.

 

WHY SHOULD I MAKE THIS?


If you have not already, you should give this recipe a shot because it is:


  1. Quick and easy.
  2. Vegetarian and can be made vegan by skipping the cheese.
  3. Budget-friendly (very few inexpensive ingredients).
  4. Easy to make gluten-free (use gluten-free pasta).
  5. Low in fat.
  6. Low in calories.
  7. Ready in 20 minutes.
  8. Kid-friendly.


HOW TO COOK THE PERFECT PASTA?


The secret of making the best pasta lies in cooking the pasta optimally. The pasta should be cooked al dente ( a toothsome texture), neither too hard nor mushy. Here is how you should cook the pasta:

  • Use lots of water (for every pound of pasta use 4 quarts of water). Seems a lot, right? Trust me that is exactly what you need.
  • Contrary to popular belief, do not add oil to the water. Oil forms an external coating on the pasta preventing the sauce to stick to it.
  • Season the water adequately. For every pound of pasta, add about 3/4 tablespoon of salt.
  • Stir the pasta as soon as you add it to the pot of boiling water. Most of the starch from the pasta is released during the first few minutes, so stirring it would prevent pasta from sticking to the pot.
  • Strain pasta as soon as it is done. Turning off the gas does not stop the cooking, the hot water keeps cooking the pasta thus turning it mushy.

INGREDIENTS


Here is what you need to make the tomato and herbs pasta:


Penne pasta - You may use the normal or the gluten-free version based on your preference.


Veggies - You will need tomatoes, onion, and garlic. Choose ripe, red tomatoes for the best result.


Spices & condiments - I have used a combination of dried herbs and fresh parsley and cilantro. You will also need tomato ketchup, salt, and pepper.


Cheese - This is optional but adds a nice touch to the pasta and results in a slightly creamy texture.


Olive oil for cooking.


HOW TO MAKE IT?


Cook the pasta - As instructed above, cook the pasta al dente. Strain and keep aside. Reserve some pasta water.


Prepare the sauce - Heat oil in a pan. Fry the garlic till fragrant, add the onions, and saute. When softened, add the tomatoes followed by tomato ketchup. Add some pasta water. Sprinkle the dried herbs and bring to a boil. Let it simmer until reduced and thickened.


Toss in the pasta - Add the pasta to the sauce, season with salt and pepper. Add cheese (optional) and finish off with some fresh chopped parsley and cilantro.

 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS


How can I make this pasta beforehand for parties?


If you want to make this dish beforehand, cook the pasta and sauce separately and store them in different containers.

 

When you are ready to serve, heat the sauce in a pan, add the cooked pasta, let it simmer, and then add the fresh herbs and cheese.


Is it advisable to cook raw pasta in the pasta sauce?


It is generally recommended to cook the pasta separately and then mix with the sauce. You may try it the other way, but in that case, your sauce has to be a lot thinner to facilitate the cooking process. You may add some water or broth and cover the pan to let the pasta cook in it. Once the pasta is almost cooked, open the lid and let the sauce thicken enough to coat the pasta.


Why does my cooked pasta go sticky before adding to the sauce?


When you cook the pasta and let it rest for longer before adding to the sauce, the pasta tends to get sticky. To avoid this, keep the sauce ready by the time your pasta is cooked. If you cannot do that, the only way out is to toss the cooked pasta in a little olive oil and then let it rest.


SERVING SUGGESTIONS


This pasta can be served as it is. You can also serve it with garlic bread and salads of your choice.


STORING SUGGESTIONS


You may store the leftover pasta in an airtight container or a ziplock bag for about 2 to 3 days in the refrigerator. 


This dish refrigerates well and is just as yummy the next day for lunch as a cold pasta salad!


TOMATO AND HERBS PENNE PASTA
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TOMATO AND HERBS PENNE PASTA

Yield: 2
Author: The GradChef
Prep time: 10 MinCook time: 10 MinTotal time: 20 Min
The classic Penne pasta cooked with ripe, red tomatoes and flavored with herbs is the perfect lunch for lazy afternoons or busy nights.

Ingredients

  • 6 oz dry penne pasta
  • 1 medium onion sliced
  • 8 garlic cloves minced
  • 3 tomatoes chopped
  • 2 tbsp tomato ketchup
  • 1 tbsp Italian dried herbs
  • 1 tbsp grated cheese
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • chopped cilantro
  • chopped parsley
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • salt to taste

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the penne as instructed. Strain pasta and keep aside. Reserve some pasta water (about 3/4 cup)
  2. Meanwhile, make the sauce in a separate non-stick saucepan. Heat oil and fry the garlic till fragrant, add the onions and saute. When softened, add the tomatoes followed by tomato ketchup. Add some pasta water. Sprinkle the dried herbs and bring to a boil. Let it simmer until reduced and thickened.
  3. Add the pasta to the sauce, season with salt and pepper. Add cheese (optional) and finish off with some fresh chopped parsley and cilantro.
  4. Serve and enjoy!

Notes:

  • Use gluten-free pasta for a gluten-free meal.
  • Skip the cheese for vegan pasta.
  • You may use canned tomatoes too.
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
italian pasta easy quick one-pot kid-friedndly vegan vegetarian gluten-free
lunch, dinner
Italian
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