Pasta Pomodoro Recipe

A dinner with fresh ingredients from Kathleen Flinn's The Kitchen Counter Cooking School. "Be sure to have the pasta cooking and all the ingredients ready before starting the sauce; this is ready more quickly than you'd expect."


8 oz. dried pasta, such as penne or linguine, or 12 oz. fresh pasta
Coarse salt
1 tbsp olive oil
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
About 12 oz. tomatoes, chopped*
Handful of chopped parsley or basil
Pinch or two of hot pepper flakes
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

* Flavourful fresh tomatoes make all the difference here; cherry tomatoes work especially well and they’re available year-round. Just cut them in half.


Step 1: Boil water for the pasta. Add at least 1 tbsp of salt to the water; it should taste slightly salty. Cook the pasta according to the package directions; reserve about 1/2 cup of pasta water after cooking.

Step 2: Meanwhile, add the olive oil to a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook for one minute; be sure not to burn it or you’ll need to start over. Add the tomatoes, and any other vegetables**, and cook until the vegetables are softened, about 3-5 minutes for tomatoes on their own, longer if you add in other vegetables.

Step 3: Add the reserved pasta water and cook until the sauce is reduced slightly and the rest of the ingredients begin to break down, about another 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the cheese, red pepper flakes and fresh herbs (if using), several cranks of fresh black pepper and salt if needed.

** Consider adding the following:

  • Splash of cream at the end of cooking for a more creamy texture
  • Handful of additional chopped vegetables, such as zucchini, artichokes, olives, and/or asparagus, to extend the sauce and offer additional flavour
  • Shrimp or diced cooked chicken with the tomatoes (shrimp can be added raw, but be sure to cook them thoroughly; they should turn white throughout and curl up tightly)

See more recipes from Kathleen Flinn.

Reprinted with permission from Kathleen Flinn’s The Kitchen Counter Cooking School (2011 Viking).