Pasta Pomodoro is a classic simple pasta dish with tomatoes, olive oil, onions and garlic. It is a hearty meatless dinner you can have on the table in 20 minutes.
When it comes to meatless dishes, I have to say, my guys aren’t usually fans. I try to cook meatless once a week and each time I get the dreaded “where’s the meat question?”
But not with pasta pomodoro.
When I make Pasta Pomodoro my boys gobble it up and there is no mention of the lack of meat. There is just something about the classic combo of tomato sauce, basil and pasta that make this dish a family favorite.
And it has been a favorite of my husband’s dating all the way back to our Olive Garden date night’s as teenagers. This recipe is my version of that restaurant classic.
The best part of all, is that this quick, easy, family friendly meal can be on your table in 20 minutes!
Pasta Pomodoro, or Capellini Pomodoro as it is often called, could not be simpler. Pomodoro literally means “tomato” in Italian. It is essentially thin pasta and a simple tomato sauce. In the case of this recipe, the tomato sauce is made with canned tomatoes, onions, garlic, basil and a little crushed red pepper.
While the crushed red pepper adds a little bit of heat, it is not overpowering and my kiddos will still eat it. If you’re worried leave them out and then put them in a bowl on the table so everyone can add their desired amount.
Sometimes when I stand in the pasta aisle, I am amazed at all of the different varieties available. There are different shapes, different sizes and different colors. For this dish you’re going to want to use a rod shaped pasta.
Rod shaped pastas are usually long pastas. And, to make things extra confusing, there are different thicknesses. From bucatini which is a thick to Angel Hair which is the thinnest. And traditional spaghetti falls somewhere in the middle. Most often, pasta pomodoro is made with capellini or angel hair pasta but any rod shaped pasta will do.
I would avoid the flat pastas like fettuccine or linguine and save those for use with heartier sauces.
My favorite thing about this capellini pomorodo recipe is that it is done in under 30 minutes.
STEP #1: Start your water and boil the pasta according to package directions.
STEP #2: Meanwhile heat the extra virgin olive oil to a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions, garlic, basil and crushed red pepper. Saute until onions and garlic are slightly soft, about 3 minutes. Add the diced tomatoes and salt and pepper, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer while you wait for your noodles to finish.
STEP #3: After draining the noodles, add them to the pasta and toss to coat.
If you want to add some protein to this dish, grilled chicken or sautéed shrimp would be perfect!
Finally, because carbs are life, I always serve my pastas with a side of the best (and easiest!) garlic bread. And wine. Obviously.
If you love this Pasta Pomodoro recipe, check out my other pasta recipes! Here are some of my favorites:
Note: This post was originally written in 2008. It was updated in 2020.
DollyMay 7, 2022 at 6:45 pm
Delicious! So glad that I saved this recipe the 1st time I saw it. Exactly what I was looking for to make today! Turned out great thank you!
DesereeMay 7, 2022 at 7:03 pm
You are so welcome, Dolly! Glad you enjoyed it!!
EllaMarch 21, 2022 at 2:48 pm
This looks delicious. The family loves great pasta dishes for dinner.
JenniferApril 19, 2021 at 11:03 am
I love making Pasta Pomodoro and have been making it ever since Olive Garden took it off their menu years ago and I had to figure out how to make it myself. I do add another seasoning that makes it taste amazing, I put in about 1/2 tsp of Beau Monde seasoning when I add the tomatoes and it gives such a unique delicious flavor. Thanks for sharing this recipe!
DanielFebruary 23, 2021 at 4:24 pm
Ms Des, I just make this for dinner and may I say this is one of the best I have ever had, I have been looking for a good pasta dish that did not call for 10 to 20 things to put in it with or without meal.
I try and tell people that the simply way of cooking is always the best, just a few things in it and let the meal talk for it self and believe me Ms Des, This meal does just that. Again Thank you so very much and I look forward to trying more great recipes of yours.
DesereeFebruary 23, 2021 at 9:29 pm
Hi Daniel, I am so happy to hear that! I love cooking simple too. Let each ingredient shine!
DanielFebruary 23, 2021 at 4:06 pm
Ms Des, Thank you so very much for this Great meal!!!!!
This will be my go to pasta meal.
DebbieSeptember 3, 2020 at 5:53 pm
Made for supper tonight and it was delicious. Will make again for sure.
DesereeSeptember 3, 2020 at 8:59 pm
So happy to hear that!
DebbieSeptember 2, 2020 at 12:42 pm
I want to make this for dinner, but have a question, do you strain the liquid from the canned tomatoes or just dump in the whole can?
DesereeSeptember 2, 2020 at 1:43 pm
Hi Debbie! You can dump in the whole can :)
LatinaAugust 11, 2020 at 3:55 pm
I have recently become a pescatarian and this meal fit my needs perfectly. I didn’t even miss the meat. It was simple yet very flavorful. This is definitely going in the rotation.
DesereeAugust 11, 2020 at 6:36 pm
That is so great to hear Latina! Glad you enjoyed it!
Norma GlennieJuly 22, 2020 at 10:00 am
My absolute favorite at Olive Garden but they don’t carry it on the menu any more so if you ask for it and they have the ingredients (and I’m sure if the cook knows the recipe) they will make it for you. So glad to have this recipe and I will be trying it out!!! Thank you!
SandraApril 21, 2020 at 1:20 pm
This will quickly become a favorite meal at my house!
ToniApril 19, 2020 at 10:11 pm
I loved it! Packed full of delicious flavors!!
Sara WelchApril 19, 2020 at 1:57 pm
Enjoyed this for dinner last night; it was easy and delicious and exactly what I needed! Easily, a new family favorite dish!
CatalinaApril 18, 2020 at 7:23 am
This pasta seems so fresh and flavorful! Yummy!
DesereeApril 18, 2020 at 8:48 am
CathyApril 17, 2020 at 12:53 pm
One of my favorites from Olive Garden and this is SO much better!
DesereeApril 17, 2020 at 11:00 pm
JenApril 17, 2020 at 6:37 am
I love how light and delicious this is! I was lucky enough to have all of the ingredients in my kitchen.
DesereeApril 17, 2020 at 11:01 pm
Love when that happens!
AmandaApril 16, 2020 at 3:16 pm
This is by far my favorite pasta dish!
DesereeApril 16, 2020 at 5:55 pm
So happy to hear Amanda! Ours too!
CarmellaApril 4, 2020 at 6:25 pm
Delicious, just what I wanted and so quick! I added fresh grated Parmesan but next time I’d leave it off. Thank you really delicious
DesereeApril 5, 2020 at 9:38 am
You are so welcome! So glad you enjoyed it!
LauraFebruary 3, 2020 at 5:13 pm
This was really good. Used 4 large cloves garlic, fresh grape tomatoes cut in half, bacon bits and sprinkled with sweet paprika. Served with chicken Parmesan. Used the rest of ingredients as recipe reads. I also used 2 tablespoons of butter with olive oil to cook onions and garlic. I added about 2 tablespoons of my homemade garlic butter at the end.
Sandra | A Dash of SanityAugust 18, 2018 at 9:25 am
Looks like a perfect dinner any night of the week!
CatalinaAugust 15, 2018 at 7:15 am
This is a classic! The simplest dishes are always the best!
JamielynAugust 15, 2018 at 6:56 am
So yummy! My family would love this!
Erin | Dinners,Dishes and DessertAugust 15, 2018 at 6:25 am
I love easy meals like this for busy weeknights!
Delaney | Melanie MakesAugust 14, 2018 at 5:24 pm
I want to have this for dinner!
DesereeJune 7, 2013 at 3:01 pm
Janice- Do you mean made in another pot and then just kept warm in the crock pot? I think that would work fine. There isn’t too much of a sauce so if it is kept low the noodles shouldn’t get soggy. If you are talking about cooking the whole thing in the crock pot I am not sure. I have heard of people cooking pasta in a crock pot but I’ve never tried it.
Janice MawsonJune 7, 2013 at 2:01 pm
Could this be made and kept warm in a crock pot to serve a large crowd?