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Overhead view on a bowl containing a penne pomodoro pasta dish. The noodles are also garnished with vegan parmesan cheese and more fresh basil. There is a fork in the side of the bowl, a black and white hand towel and a small bowl with more parmesan cheese.

Penne Pomodoro (4-Ingredient Easy Pasta Recipe)

5 from 1 vote
This authentic penne pomodoro recipe is a light Italian pasta dish simply made by combining fresh Roma tomatoes, garlic, basil and pasta. I'll walk you through the step-by-step on how to make a pomodoro sauce from scratch that's deep in flavor, heavenly creamy and although takes some time to cook down, so easy to prepare!
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time1 hr
Total Time1 hr 20 mins
Servings 4 people
Author plantbasedjess


  • 4-5 pounds fresh Italian Plum Roma tomatoes - (about 15-20)
  • 4-5 garlic cloves - crushed
  • 15 fresh basil leaves - plus more for serving
  • salt - to taste
  • penne noodles - cooked al dente
  • vegan parmesan cheese - optional, for serving


  • Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. While the water heats up, make an 'X' on the edge of the tomatoes just deep enough to go through their skin. Also, prepare a large bowl with cold water and ice cubes.
  • Once the water is boiling, add the tomatoes to the pot, cover and bring back to a gentle boil. Let them boil for about 1-3 minutes or until their skins are starting to peel off where you marked the 'X'.
  • Remove the tomatoes from the boiling water and transfer right away to the bowl with iced water. Let the tomatoes cool down for a few minutes.
  • When the tomatoes are cold enough to handle, then pull on their skin using your hands. Also, use a small knife to remove their nodes (this makes the sauce creamier). You can remove their seeds and watery interior as well if you don't want any seeds in your sauce (I usually don't remove them). Transfer the prepared tomatoes to a large bowl as you prepare them and set them aside.
  • Once the tomatoes are all ready to go, then warm up a small amount of olive oil in a large pot (use a dutch iron pot if you have one) and then, add the crushed garlic. Keep cooking on medium heat and stir constantly while watching the garlic so it does not burn. Cook for maximum one minute and then, add the peeled tomatoes whole to the pot. Stir well and keep cooking on medium heat. Once the tomatoes have softened slightly, then use a hand masher to crush them to a desired texture (they will keep breaking up as they cook).
  • Turn down the heat to low-medium, keep uncovered and cook while stirring often for at least 45 minutes (even longer). Watch the sauce to adjust the heat as it cooks and cook as long as it needs until it becomes smooth with not much water left.
  • Add some salt to taste and the fresh basil, stir well and turn off the heat.
  • Transfer the cooked penne to the sauce and stir until all combined and warmed up. Serve warm with vegan parmesan cheese and more fresh basil.



  • Don't hesitate to make double/triple batch of the pomodoro sauce. You will start with what looks like a generous amount of tomatoes, but they cook down so much you won't be left with so much sauce.
  • Store any leftovers in the fridge for up to 4-5 days. I find that the sauce and noodles keep better when apart from each other, so if you expect some leftovers, then consider combining only the penne and tomato sauce that you need.
  • This sauce is much better when using fresh in season Plum Roma tomatoes. But, if you must make it when these tomatoes are less available in the winter, then consider making it with canned tomatoes. In this case, use 2 x 28 oz of canned peeled whole San Marzano Plum tomatoes. 
  • Cooking this sauce on a low heat for longer creates the best flavor. Plan accordingly and aim for cooking the sauce for up to 1 hour.