Soooo it’s been a minute. Sometimes life gets crazy, sometimes you just get caught up in living life. It happens, right? In all the blissful craziness of the past few weeks, I’ve been making this pasta at an embarrassing frequency. It’s so quick and easy, but every time I have it I still feel like I’ve suddenly teleported to Italy.
I think there is one vital step to really upping your pasta game: stop. using. canned. sauces. I’ll admit that I used to be quite the fan of jarred marinaras, alfredos, and everything in between. Until I swapped the jars of pasta sauce for a can of crushed tomatoes- and now I’ll never go back. It’s so easy to just keep a tin of tomatoes in your fridge and build a sauce whenever a pasta craving hits. It takes just a little more time but it makes a huge difference, and it’s really helped to deepen my love of cooking. Plus, canned tomatoes keep FOREVER, so really they’re the best college cooking staple.
The first steps of this recipe may remind you of our well-loved spaghetti aglio e olio- and that is because I firmly believe that when you start a dish with some nice olive oil, garlic, and crushed red pepper, it will always taste amazing. Theres just something about that savory-oily-spicy combo that nothing else really compares to.
And finally, a personal tip for this recipe: I actually use veggie penne (inauthentic, I know) instead of regular pasta whenever I can. It tastes pretty similar, and it’s a really easy way to add extra nutritional value. Getting nutritionally high-quality calories that still taste amazing is the most important thing to me, and this swap makes this dish a perfect way to do that. Okay, now onto the recipe:
Serves: 4 | Cook time: 20 minutes
- 1 pound penne (regular or veggie)
- 1 1/2 cup crushed tomatoes
- 1/4 cup olive oil, plus another 4 tablespoons (divided)
- 5 cloves garlic
- 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes, plus more if desired
- 1/4 cup torn basil
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Nutritional yeast, to taste
- Bring a pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Cook pasta according to package instructions and drain, reserving 1 cup pasta cooking water.
- Meanwhile, heat a frying pan over medium heat. Add olive oil, crushed red pepper, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper to taste and sauté until fragrant and garlic is just beginning to brown.
- Stir in crushed tomatoes and reduce heat to low. Let simmer until slightly thickened and pasta is finished cooking.
- Add pasta to pan, tossing to coat. Stir in reserved pasta water, tablespoon by tablespoon, until you reach your desired consistency (you will likely not use all of the reserved water).
- Remove from heat and serve immediately, garnishing with basil, nutritional yeast, more crushed red pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil.