California Central Coast Recipes

Penne Pasta in a Light Tomato Sauce

Penne Pasta with a Light Tomato Sauce is our version of the fabled favorite of Frank Sinatra's when he'd return from a heavy traveling concert schedule and be tired of heavy meals. As rumored in several books and cookbooks, he'd request a simple light tomato sauce with basil or oregano on penne pasta. This sauce is a fundamental light chunky Italian red sauce.

In the summer, when really savory basil is available, I use that for its seasoning alone with garlic of course. But in the winter -when only store-bought basil is available, I like to substitute for the basil, a little dried oregano and a little bit of Italian parsley for seasoning.

The trick to making this sauce is to either use fresh tomatoes (in the summer) or in the winter use good canned tomatoes in their juices -but don't use the juices - just use the whole tomatoes and then lightly chop (or pulse for a just a few seconds in the food processor.) You need the texture of the tomatoes-- think chunky --it's not a heavy smooth sauce! ©2017, Penne Pasta in a Light Tomato Sauce
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes
re-calculate ingredients for:


2 to 3 Tablespoons Extra virgin Olive Oil
3 to 4 medium Garlic cloves , peeled and chopped
1-1/2 pounds Ripe Tomatoes OR
2 14.5 ounce cans Whole tomatoes in their juices , drained and lightly chopped
1/2 cup fresh Basil , chopped OR
1 t. Dried Oregano
1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
6 ounces Penne pasta
Parmesan cheese , grated for the table.

Preparation Directions.

1 In a large non-reactive (stainless is best) saucepan, heat olive oil over medium –low heat. Add garlic and let cook until fragrant (one to two minutes.) Do not brown. Add tomatoes. Stir- picking up bits of the garlic from the bottom to disburse. Add your seasoning -Basil or Oregano and parsley if using. Continue to cook and pick up bits of ingredients up through the sauce until the sauce thickens just a bit but the tomato chopped pieces still maintain their form.

2 Add the salt and freshly cracked black pepper and stir well to evenly distribute throughout the sauce. Correct seasonings to taste.

3 In the meantime, cook pasta in boiling salted water as directed on package. Drain and add to sauce. Toss thoroughly and evenly distribute the pasta throughout the sauce.

4 Serve on individual dinner plates or pasta bowls. Have grated Parmesan cheese available at the table.

Wine and Food Pairing and Serving Suggestions.

Serve with a Sangiovese or Chianti red wine.

A tip from Sue!

Frying high fat meats

You can cut down on the calories of high-fat meats, by just adding a little water (instead of adding oil) to your frying pan until the meat's fat starts releasing and lubricating the pan, then cook with the frying pan covered. If you want a crispy coating, you uncover the pan or cook with the lid partially ajar.