This Easy Tomato Pasta recipe is my fallback plan. If I get stuck, I always know I can make a great tasting meal (that my kids will definitely eat) in under 20 minutes, using things I always have in my kitchen. Phew!
You must get those days when your dinner plans fall through, or you didn’t have time to go to the shops, or you get back late, or you forget to defrost something or you just don’t really fancy cooking, right? I know I do!
This Easy Tomato Pasta has been my saviour in those sort of situations more times than I care to think about! It’s quick (under 20 minutes), it’s easy, I pretty much have all the ingredients in my fridge and cupboards all the time and I know my kids will eat it without complaint…it’s also a heck of a lot cheaper (and quicker) than getting a takeaway and probably healthier too!
It’s also super versatile…and great for clearing out the fridge.
If I have some leftover chorizo or bacon, I chop them up small and cook them at the same time as the onions. A few stray veggies lurking at the back of my fridge? I throw them in when the onions have softened – peppers, courgettes, aubergines and mushrooms are all great in this.
No basil? You can use parsley or dried oregano. No balsamic vinegar? Try a splash of wine, or a squeeze of lemon juice. Or even good old Worcester Sauce. Want to spice things up? Add a teaspoon of dried chilli flakes and/or a teaspoon of smoked paprika. No sundried tomatoes? Just leave them out, or use sliced black olives instead.
And if you have fussy kids (or fussy grownups) who aren’t keen on lumps of vegetables and ‘yucky green bits’, just blitz this sauce up with a hand blender first before adding the pasta.
This tomato pasta sauce is also a great recipe to do as a big batch and keep in the fridge or freeze, so you have an even quicker meal when you need it! Why not make double the sauce and use the rest later in the week? Or use the second half of the sauce as a pizza topping or in a bolognese.
To make this Easy Tomato Pasta recipe even quicker and simpler, omit the basil, balsamic vinegar and sundried tomatoes. It won’t taste quite so nice but it will still feed hungry mouths quickly!
I’d love to know what your go to recipe is in emergency situations…let me know in the comments below! 😀
If you like this recipe…
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Easy Tomato Pasta
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small onion diced
- 1 garlic clove crushed or finely chopped
- 400 g tin chopped tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- Salt and pepper
- A small handful of basil roughly chopped
- 300 g penne pasta or any shape you fancy
- 3 sundried tomatoes
- Grated cheddar or parmesan
- Pour the olive oil in a medium saucepan and add the onion. Put on a low heat and sweat the onion, with the lid on, for about 5 minutes, until the onion is softened but not brown. Stir occasionally.
- When the onion is cooked, add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute, stirring occasionally.
- Add the tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper and half the basil. Turn the heat up and bring to the boil, then cook for 10-15 minutes on a low heat, stirring occasionally.
- While the sauce is cooking, cook the pasta according to packet instructions / your own preferences. Add the sundried tomatoes to the pasta to rehydrate.
- Just before the pasta is ready, hoick out the sundried tomatoes, (I use the point of a sharp knife or a fork) chop finely and add to the sauce.
- Drain the pasta and stir into the sauce with a couple of tablespoons of pasta cooking water. Serve sprinkled with the cheese and the remaining basil.
- Suitable for freezing (sauce only).
- Nutrition information is approximate and meant as a guideline only.
Want more delicious and hassle-free midweek meals? Find more here…
Want to find more great vegetarian meal ideas? Check out my collection of Easy Peasy Vegetarian & Vegan Recipes…
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Louise Fairweather says
This looks lovely. It is so easy to forget how simple some recipes are and so tasty.
Eb Gargano says
Thanks Louise! I agree, sometimes simple is best – I love dishes like this that I can cook off the top of my head – it is what I do when our plans fall through, as I always have the ingredients in my kitchen. Sometimes I jazz it up with other veggies or chorizo, but often I just have it as it is. And best of all, the kids LOVE it – never any complaints! Eb x
Jo / Jo's Kitchen Larder says
Perfection! Simple, quick to make and delicious! Love the addition of balsamic vinegar! I’ve never added it to tomato sauce but am so going to do it next time I cook it, sounds wonderful! My go to emergency dinner tend to be spaghetti carbonara which kids love and if it was up to them we would have it every other day. We always have bacon, eggs and parmesan and it also takes roughly 20 minutes to make so win win 🙂 Am adding your pasta to my emergency meals for next time 🙂 x
Eb Gargano says
Thank you, Jo! Simple, quick and delicious is what I always aim for 😀 You definitely need to try adding balsamic vinegar to your tomato sauce – SO GOOD! Ooooh carbonara, yes! I love it but don’t make it very often. For some reason I never think of it – but you are so right, it makes the perfect emergency meal!! Eb x
Angela / Only Crumbs Remain says
We’re just the same Eb – if we have ran out of time we will have a homemade tomato sauce & pasta! It’s so incredibly yummy – and so easy too! Like Jo, I’ve never tried it with balsamic but I can well imagine that it tastes amazing – will certainly be trying out that idea. We often pop a tiny pinch of celery salt in ours – it really gives it that extra lift.
Eb Gargano says
Oh you need to try it with balsamic vinegar – adds such a lovely richness to the sauce. Love the idea of adding celery salt! Eb x
Michelle Frank | Flipped-Out Food says
Pantry pasta dishes are SUCH lifesavers: I don’t know what I’d do without them! Especially now that it’s winter and fresh tomatoes are just…NOT. Fun aside: I didn’t realize that “mealy tomatoes” were quite literally a thing until just last week, when I bought a round object that looked and smelled like a tomato. That is, until I cut it open and felt that grainy nastiness all over my fingers—into the dustbin it went, and out came a tin of perfectly wonderful tomatoes! This recipe just shot to the top of my To-Make list in the pantry pasta category: apart from everything else about this gorgeous dish, the cheese melted on top is making my mouth water!
Eb Gargano says
Sadly those mealy tomatoes are all too common in the UK. I seriously do not know why we put up with them (I say we, I really mean all the other people – I can’t stand them and won’t buy them!). I remember the first time I went to Italy and tasted a tomato there. It was like a whole different thing. I am afraid I am spoiled for life now. Unless it is the real deal I am not interested. I’d rather have the canned version than a mealy tomato any day! Eb x
This looks awesome Eb. Tomato pasta is ALWAYS my fallback dinner for the kids and yours looks lovely.
Eb Gargano says
Thanks Mandy – it’s such a great fallback dish, isn’t it? Especially as I KNOW my kids will eat it without complaint!! Eb x
I love recipes like this that are so quick, tasty and you can use ingredients you have in your fridge and cupboards. And it doesn’t matter if they are slightly different each time.
Eb Gargano says
Me too – and this tomato pasta is PERFECT for that. I especially love it for when I have a bit of chorizo left in my fridge that needs using up 😀 Eb x
Bruce Nainby says
Used the recipe last night, very tasty. I suspect the balsamic vinegar is the key to it’s success but 90g of bacon lardons probably helped. Also followed your suggestion of adding smoked paprika and some left over veg, I added the cooked pasta to the sauce for a final minute of cooking (together with 2 tbsps of the starchy water it had been cooked in) following advice I’d read elsewhere. Not sure if that made any difference or not to the outcome.