Monday, September 12, 2011

Fresh Tomato Sauce With Olives Over Pennette | Meatless Monday

This pasta dish is fresh and easy.

~ Prepare the ingredients while the pasta water comes to a boil.

~ Cook the sauce while the pasta boils.

You're done.


I started with a large pot of water and while waiting for it to come to a boil, I prepared these ingredients:

Fresh garden tomatoes that I had just picked were used because some split on the vines and would spoil if left out. Ugly garden tomatoes make pretty tasty sauce! Farmers' market or good grocery store tomatoes (even a pint of grape tomatoes halved) would work well. I also used one large shallot. I just love shallots and always have them on hand. But half a red onion would work. 

I would have used garlic if I'd had some.

Fresh basil and parsley added amazing flavor. I gave everything a rough chop while chatting with my kids doing their homework nearby.

Fresh mozzarella was in the fridge so I decided it would taste lovely with the fresh tomatoes and basil in this meal - almost like a basil-mozzerella salad but over pasta. Shaved or grated parmesan would make a nice substitute.

Then, while the pennette boiled (any pasta can be used and I would use whole wheat but it scares my family away), I sauteed the shallot in some extra virgin olive oil until soft. If using garlic, add at the end so it doesn't burn.

When the shallot was soft, I added the chopped tomatoes, brought everything to a boil, immediately turned off the heat, covered the pan, and let it sit until the pasta was cooked. This way, the tomatoes softened a little and maintained their freshness.

Before draining the pasta, I scooped out half a cup of pasta water.

Fresh parsley and basil were added last - just before serving.

I added half a cup of the pasta water that was saved, about half to one teaspoon white balsamic vinegar (start with a little and slowly add more to taste), Kalamata olives in an amount that made me happy. I broke them up with my fingers.  The olives provided the salt for this dish.

I kept the pasta and sauce separate because there wasn't enough for the whole pound of pasta. We set up 4 individual bowls of pasta and ladled the sauce over each serving.  The leftover pasta and sauce were stored in the fridge separately.

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A little bread on the side would have been nice to sop up the remaining sauce!

Recipe ~ adjust to taste

Pennette, 1 package, or other pasta

Extra virgin olive oil, about 2 tablespoons
1 large shallot, or half a red onion, roughly chopped
1 clove garlic, minced (optional)
Roma tomatoes, about 5; Heirlooms, about 2, roughly chopped
  or about 4 medium-sized tomatoes
  or 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
Paster water, 1/2 cup
White balsamic vinegar, about 1/2 to 1 teaspoon
Kalamata olives, drained, about half a jar or to taste, broken up with fingers
Fresh parsley, a small bunch, chopped
Fresh basil, a small bunch, chopped
Fresh mozzarella, sliced, or parmesan, shaved or grated

Italian bread (optional)

Method: Start with bringing water in a large pot to a boil and cook pasta according to directions on package. While water comes to a boil and while pasta cooks: chop tomatoes, onion (and garlic, if using), and herbs. Slice mozzarella. Break up olives. Saute shallot (garlic) in extra virgin olive oil over medium heat until soft. Add tomatoes, bring to a boil, immediately turn off heat, cover and let sit until pasta is done. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water, drain pasta. Add pasta water to tomato sauce, white balsamic vinegar, Kalamata olives, parsley and basil. Set up individual bowls with pasta. Ladle desired about of sauce over top, garnish with cheese. Serves about six.


9/24 Update: here's an article with a similar recipe I just found while searching through old magazines that I thought you'd like, "Great Tomatoes Don't Need Cooking to Become a Great Sauce"


  1. Yes I think my palte would look like your last pic..pretty empty.Very yummy recepie;)

  2. What a fantastic fall pasta! Definitely would need the bread. I wouldn't want to miss any of the sauce!

  3. Delicioso! Definitely going to make some fresh sauce today.. to serve with.. eggplant..?? YES! Thanks for the inspiration, my friend!

  4. What? No bread to sop up the extra sauce?...that's the best part, Linda! When you buy bread, especially the wonderful baguette, always have to buy an extra loaf, to keep in the freezer.
    Love your quick and easy fresh tomato sauce with the Kalamata, and the fresh mozzarella...I'm linking this to my other pasta link that was from Vicki, who also made fresh tomato sauce! it:DDD

  5. Simply delectable, I'm sure! Love the addition of the olives. I just never think to add them.

    Thanks for sharing, Linda!

  6. Hi All and thank you for your comments, compliments, suggestions and link!

    Christy, I love the eggplant idea - almost like a ratatouille, oui?

    Elisabeth, I'll be by to check out that link, thanks! Keeping extra bread in the freezer is a good idea, one I always forget to do, so thanks for that idea (and reminder) also!

  7. I have not decided. But can I try it tomorrow night? Tonight, I want someone else to cook for me. ;)

    My kids will eat up that dish!

  8. Linda, this is a wonderful tomato sauce. I just made a big pot of tomato sauce but the next time I make it, I will use your recipe:D Sounds so good to me.

  9. What a wonderful dish! We have been very lucky this year, and our tomato plants have been producing lots of tomatoes. Love the simplicity of your dinner. And I'll remember to add a bit of white balsamic vinegar to my sauce next time...

  10. Jayne, anytime! Take a break, but I know this is something you'd like to make sometime.

    Thanks Quay Po! And it's good to cut back and simplify sometimes, isn't it?

    Hi Andrea! That's what I was going for, simplicity. The balsamic vinegar was an afterthought when I tasted the sauce and realized it needed a little punch, other than adding salt. The idea to use vinegar came from a recipe I've cooked for years, from "We Called It Macaroni", which is a thicker sauce that's cooked longer, but has vinegar and olives in it - very nice.

  11. Oh this looks sooo good! I would lick that plate!:) wonderful recipe!!!