pasta al pomodoro

Pasta and tomato: how to make a super easy pasta dinner

Pasta and tomato, pasta al pomodoro in Italian, may seem unassuming and basic as a recipe but it is also among the most clever. It’s my forever backup answer to the daily question, what’s for dinner?

What’s not to love? Pasta with tomatoes is delicious and offers plenty of room for creativity and flavor. As with pizza, there are many things that you can add to mix it up. Try eggplant, bacon or maybe even tuna. Many cheeses would be happy here. Many spices too. The options are endless.

Instead of seasoning my tomatoes with salt the other night, I used an oil-packed anchovy. I also added some red pepper chili flakes for heat.

Pasta and tomato is easy and quick to make too, and cheap. The ingredient list is short and everything has a long shelf life.

Canned tomatoes are also healthy. Tomatoes are high in the antioxidant lycopene which gives them their red color but which also eliminates dangerous free radicals from your body and helps lower cholesterol. And according to Harvard Medical School, “crushing and cooking tomatoes (especially with olive oil) allows lycopene to be more easily absorbed into the body.” Which is basically to say, especially when you prepare pasta and tomato.

The pasta isn’t scary as we’ve often been led to believe either. I wrote a detailed explanation why over here but dry pasta cooked al dente is good for you (learn how to cook your pasta al dente over here). It not only can help you eat more vegetables, but your body digests it more efficiently. The result is that you feel fuller for longer which can help prevent diabetes, and also heart disease and various cancers.

Always check the ingredients when buying tomatoes. Unnecessary additives and sugars are often added and try a variety of brands as the taste and flavor can vary widely. Italian San Marzano tomatoes are grown in volcanic soil near Naples and are particularly prized for their strong, sweet flavor but there are many other interesting tomatoes out there. But beware, fraud is common in the tomato market so try to buy from trusted brands.

Pasta and tomato with an anchovy and red pepper chili flakes

Serves 2

  • 1 small can or jar of whole tomatoes – approximately 14.5 ounces
  • 1 clove, garlic crushed
  • 1 oil-packed anchovy
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper chili flakes
  • Coarse salt for the pasta water
  • 250 grams of pasta – I used fusilli but most pasta shapes will work.
  • Parmesan cheese, grated
  1. Cook the garlic, anchovy, and red pepper chili flakes in around 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot or skillet until the garlic turns golden and the anchovy dissolves.
  2. Add a small can of tomatoes, crush, and cook until thick.
  3. Meanwhile, cook the pasta al dente in salted water.
  4. Drain the pasta and add to the tomatoes and toss and cook over medium-high heat for about 30 seconds while tossing.
  5. Plate and top with grated parmesan cheese.

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