Sun Dried Tomato Pasta is a delicious Italian dish created with homemade marinara sauce, kalamata olives, cavatappi pasta, and sun dried tomatoes.
What's Special About This Recipe?
Sun Dried Tomato Pasta is a vegetarian dish that's near and dear to my heart. I'm not Italian, but I love Italian food. Over the years, my sweet Italian friends have shared a few of their recipes with me. Some have been family heirlooms, while others were scribbled out on a piece of notebook paper.
I've found that Italians are a lot like southerners when it comes to food. They're passionate. Once they're finished with one meal, they're talking about another. Southerners do the same thing. Imagine that!
My Italian friend, Jeanne, taught me how to make her special marinara sauce. The memory of cooking together in her kitchen will always be dear to me. She shared a couple of secrets which inspired me to make Sun Dried Tomato Pasta for you.
Choosing the Best Ingredients
A good marinara sauce starts with the best tomatoes. San Marzano tomatoes are a product of Italy and known for their exceptional quality. There are many brands of San Marzano tomatoes and every Italian has their favorite. I've had good results using crushed tomatoes with puree (ad) by Cento.
The type of pasta you use is equally as important. For this recipe, I like cavatappi pasta (ad) made by De Cecco. It has a unique shape with ridges to absorb the sauce.
Sun Dried tomatoes (ad) packed in extra virgin olive oil are absolutely delicious. They add meatiness to this dish and just the right amount of tanginess. Finally, the addition of kalamata olives (ad) gives this marinara sauce a unique flavor that I happen to crave.
How to Make Sun Dried Tomato Pasta
Start by sautéing chopped garlic in a skillet with olive oil for one minute, making sure it doesn't burn. Add a (28 oz) can of crushed tomatoes, drained kalamata olives, and drained sun dried tomatoes. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and dried oregano. Stir over medium heat.
I like to add a little butter to my marinara sauce, (made famous by Marcella Hazan), because it makes it velvety smooth. This is a point of great contention amongst many Italian cooks, so if it's not your thing, leave out the butter and add olive oil instead. However, if you're a southerner like me, you'll love the addition.
Cook the sauce over medium low heat for 30 minutes, stirring frequently. While the sauce is cooking, boil the cavatappi pasta in a large pot of salted water. Stir frequently to avoid sticking. Boil for only 10 minutes and turn off the heat.
One secret I learned from my friend is to add the pasta to the sauce instead of pouring sauce over the pasta on a plate. Who knew? This allows the pasta to soak in all of the goodness before serving. Simply use a slotted spoon to transfer the pasta directly to the skillet, and be sure to save the pasta water.
After adding pasta to the skillet, continue to cook it in the sauce for a few minutes until it's al dente. Here's the best secret of all...if your sauce is too thick, use the pasta water to thin it out. This works like a charm! That's why it's important not to drain the pasta and get rid of that precious water.
When the pasta is tender, spoon it into bowls and garnish with grated parmesan. Delizioso!
You're gonna love this Sun Dried Tomato Pasta dish which also happens to be vegetarian (an added bonus for meatless Mondays or any day in between).