This Rigatoni Pomodoro is an easy weeknight meal that the whole family will love.
This classic Italian dish is the perfect comfort food for any occasion. It's simple yet full of flavor, and the best part? You don't need to be a master chef to make it! With just a few basic ingredients and our easy-to-follow recipe, you'll have a steaming plate of rigatoni Pomodoro in no time.
Plus, it's a versatile recipe that's easy to customize. For example, add meatballs, sausage, or shredded chicken for a meatier version, or keep it light with some sautéed veggies.
These notes are here to help make this recipe a success; they cover some but not all ingredients; for a complete ingredient list, check out the recipe card below.
Tomatoes: Although fresh tomatoes would be traditional, I use canned tomatoes to make this dish all year round. If you can get them, pick a canned Italian tomato, they have a much better flavor. The San Marzano variety is the best, but they are more costly. Buy the best you can within your price range.
Sugar: This is an optional ingredient, depending on the quality of your canned tomatoes. If you haven't been able to get an Italian tomato, you may need a pinch of sugar to combat the acidity.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Use the best quality extra virgin olive oil within your price range. The flavor adds a lot of grassy pepperiness to the dish. The higher quality EVOO is often on sale, and I will stock up when it is half-price.
Garlic: The recipe calls for six cloves of garlic. But as I always say, we measure garlic with our hearts, so add more if you want.
Basil: Fresh basil is best here; it adds a fresh flavor to the sauce. Some is cooked into the sauce, and some that is ripped up at the end. If you can't get dried, use dried in the sauce and skip the basil at the end of the recipe.
We've tested this recipe at least 3 times to ensure it works well for you, have a look at our tips for getting the best dish you can!
- Using the best quality canned tomato you can afford is crucial here. The flavor comes from those tomatoes, so you want the best you can.
- Do not let the garlic color in the oil; it will affect the taste of your sauce. You want to cook it gently so it releases its flavor without getting acrid or bitter.
- You can use a handheld immersion blender, tabletop blender, or food processor to puree the sauce. Just be careful when pureeing hot food.
- The lower and slower you cook this sauce, the better it will taste.
- Cook the pasta for 1 minute less than the packet suggests, and finish cooking it in the sauce. Your whole dish will come together beautifully.
- Reserving pasta cooking water means you can add it to the pasta and sauce if it starts to look too dry. With this dish, I only need a splash, but I reserve a whole cup just in case.
Why You'll Love This Rigatoni Pomodoro
- Kids love the smoothness of the sauce and always finish their plates.
- It uses ingredients that you probably already have at home.
- It is easy to adapt (see below)
- The sauce freezes beautifully, so you can always have it on hand.
These are all just suggestions and things that have worked in our test kitchen, but it is your dinner, so adapt it to suit your family. That is the beauty of cooking; we can all create our own delicious meals.
- Use fresh tomatoes: replace the 28oz/800g can of tomatoes with 1½ pounds of fresh peeled tomatoes.
- Use different herbs: Although not traditional, you can swap the basil for oregano, thyme, or rosemary.
- Use a different pasta: Swap the rigatoni for penne or spirals. Or pick a long pasta like spaghetti or linguine.
- Add meat: Add cooked meatballs, sausage, shredded chicken, bacon, or leftover pulled pork/beef to the sauce.
- Add fish: For a seafood vibe, add shrimp, squid, mussels, or white fish to the sauce.
- Add veggies: Add carrots, onions, and celery into the sauce at the beginning of cooking. After the sauce is pureed, add spinach or blanched vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli, or asparagus.
- Make it spicy: Pep up your pasta by adding red chili to the tomatoes as they cook.
Make ahead of time
You can make the sauce up to 3 days ahead of time in the refrigerator or 3 months in the freezer. First, defrost thoroughly (if frozen), then reheat gently before adding it to cooked pasta.
Sides: This simple rigatoni pomodoro is perfect for serving as a side or a main. As a main, pair it with a nice side salad and some garlic bread. As a side, add a perfectly cooked steak or a meaty fish like swordfish.
Wine: You want to pick a wine that balances the sauce's acidity. So, for a white wine, I would choose a crisp Frascati, Verdicchio, or Soave. For red wine, go with a cabernet sauvignon or Zinfandel.
If you make this Rigatoni Pomodoro, don't forget to come back and comment. You can also tag me on social media.
Any questions about the recipe? Use the comments section below.
For the sauce
- 6 cloves garlic crushed/minced
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 can whole peeled Italian tomatoes 28oz/800g can
- 8 fresh basil leaves
- salt and pepper
- sugar - see note 1
For the pasta
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 10 oz rigatoni -see note 2
- salt and pepper
- fresh basil for garnish
- grated parmesan for garnish
- extra virgin olive oil for garnish
For the sauce
- Pour the extra virgin olive oil into a large pan, add the garlic, and place over low heat. Cook gently for 2-3 minutes until the garlic smells fragrant but is still soft.¼ cup extra virgin olive oil6 cloves garlic
- Add the tomatoes and all the juice, along with the fresh basil.1 can whole peeled Italian tomatoes8 fresh basil leaves
- Cook the tomatoes on low heat for 20 minutes, breaking the tomatoes down with the end of your spoon/spatula.
- Puree your sauce until smooth, then return to the pan and cook for 10 minutes over low heat. Check the seasoning and add salt, pepper, and sugar to taste. Let the sauce simmer on the lowest stetting while you cook the pasta.salt and peppersugar
Now cook your pasta
- Bring a large pan of water to a boil and add your salt. Add the pasta and cook for 1 minute less than the packet suggests.1 tablespoon salt10 oz rigatoni
- Reserve a cup of the pasta cooking water, then drain the pasta.
- Add the pasta to the sauce, using tongs to turn it so it's completely coated. Cook for a minute over low heat adding pasta water if the pasta gets too dry.
- Test the seasoning and then serve with extra basil, freshly grated parmesan, and a drizzle of EVOO.salt and pepperfresh basilgrated parmesanextra virgin olive oil
- If you haven't been able to get an Italian tomato, you may need a pinch of sugar to combat the acidity.
- Swap the rigatoni for penne or spirals. Or pick a long pasta like spaghetti or linguine.
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