Tomato + Basil Pasta

Tomato + Basil Pasta

Old Recipe Savoury,Savoury

“A man taking basil from a woman will love her always.” Sir Thomas Moore

What happens when you get a handful of fresh basil? We make pasta!

As I didn’t have enough to make a garlicky pesto sauce, I made my own version of a sauce that comes somewhere in between an aglio olio and a pomodoro. And it’s not even a sauce in a sauce kind of sense; its chunkier, yet coats each piece of pasta just as well. I’m pretty sure there must be a sexy sounding Italian name for this kind of sauce, I’m just not sure what – any volunteers?

The key to making this dish is slow and patient cooking of the garlic – something that is really difficult for me. I also add in a few spoons of the pasta water to emulsify the sauce. I use no cream or milk, but do add a good helping of grated fresh Parmesan.

This is a great dish for lunch or dinner and kids tend to love it just as well. If you need the veggie portion added in, throw in some broccoli, spinach, mushrooms, peas… whatever you please.

The best part of this dish is the fresh basil – no amount of dried basil can compensate. Tear the leaves a bit before stirring into the sauce to get the optimum flavour into the tomatoes.


If you choose to add some veggies, add them into the pan after the garlic and onions are well cooked. You can load up the creaminess by adding some cream (around 200ml) into the sauce and for a lower-calorie version, some skim milk (about ½ to 1 cup). Both are to be added into the sauce once the tomatoes are well cooked. Opt for whole-wheat pasta if you wish.

The Recipe
Serves Serves: 4 | Prep Time: 30 mins | Cook Time: 30 mins


  • 4 handfuls of penne
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 12-14 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 4 tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1 cup fresh basil
  • 3 tbsp oregano
  • 1 tbsp chilli flakes
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt + Pepper to taste
  • ½ cup grated parmigiano or padano cheese


  • Bring water to boil in a large pot.
  • Drop the pasta into it, with 1 tbsp olive oil and 1 tbsp salt.
  • Cook the pasta as per the cooking instructions of the pasta (usually 8-10 minutes).
  • Drain the water, but keep a few spoons of the water on the side.
  • Meanwhile, in a non-stick pan, heat the olive oil with the garlic.
  • Sauté for at least five minutes.
  • Then add in the onions, chilli flakes and oregano.
  • Sauté until onions and garlic are very well cooked, and are fragrant. This should take at least 10-15 minutes.
  • Then add in the tomatoes, basil (torn in half), salt and pepper.
  • After a few minutes, add in the cooked pasta and a few big spoons of the water.
  • Cook for a few more minutes, stirring frequently.
  • Serve hot, with grated Parmesan.

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The recipes are tried and tested, some are adapted from various places, and a few are passed down; but every one of them comes straight from the heart.