Pasta with Tomato Sauce Recipe. All Variations

There’s nothing more versatile than homemade pasta tomato sauce and whatever you might like to throw in. It is guaranteed to leave all (repeat: all) its store-bought pasta tomato sauce counterparts in the dust. So go for it and try all my suggestions! In pasta tomato sauce dishes, it’s OK to use tubular hollow-shaped pasta and let the sauce go into the holes, which wouldn’t do for rich cream-based sauces (for these we need to use flat pasta).

To my basic pasta tomato sauce recipe, I have included several variations: scroll down, you’ll be happy!



  • 1 pound penne, or other tubular pasta, gluten-free OK
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 large onion, quartered
  • 6 large cloves garlic
  • 2 ribs celery, peeled and cut in big chunks
  • 1 bunch flat parsley
  • 1 large carrot, grated
  • 4 cups canned crushed tomatoes
  • Good pinch red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons oregano
  • Salt to taste
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste


Bring water to boil with a little salt and oil in a large pot, preferably equipped with a strainer insert. Add the pasta and cook accordingly to manufacturer’s instructions. Take out the pasta, letting it drain, and reserve ½ cup of the cooking liquid. Heat the oil in a large skillet. Coarsely grind the onion and garlic in a food processor and add to the oil. Sauté until translucent. Coarsely grind the celery and parsley and add to the skillet, and sauté 1 to 2 minutes longer. Add all the remaining sauce ingredients, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium, cover and cook 30 minutes.

Transfer the pasta to a platter. Toss with the sauce, the reserved cooking liquid and freshly ground pepper. Serve hot. Makes 8 servings.

Pasta Tomato Sauce Variations: short and sweet selection please!

  • Throw in some grated Parmesan (watch the added salt).
  • Sauté some sliced mushrooms with the onion, garlic, etc.
  • Sauté some spinach or Swiss chard leaves or grated zucchini with the onion, garlic, etc.
  • Add some pitted, oil-cured olives (watch the added salt).
  • Add some capers (watch the added salt).
  • Add some dry white wine.
  • Add some sliced basil leaves.
  • Add some sun-dried tomatoes (watch the added salt).
  • Roast 2 to 3 garlic heads and mash the pulp into the sauce.
  • Add some sliced roasted red peppers, good-brand bottled OK.
  • Throw in some rinsed canned anchovies or dashi powder, but don’t add any salt to the sauce.
  • Go Tex-Mex and throw in some chopped cilantro, jalapeño, cumin, etc.
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