Sun Dried Tomato Pasta

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Sun Dried Tomato Pasta is a delicious Italian dish created with homemade marinara sauce, kalamata olives, cavatappi pasta, and sun dried tomatoes.

a serving of pasta with sun dried tomatoes, olives and cheese on top in a red bowl

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.

marinara sauce in a skillet with a wooden spoon

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.

sun dried tomato pasta in a skillet with olives and a wooden spoon

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.

Serving Suggestions

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).

More Pasta to Love

If pasta is your thing, try my other dishes like Roasted Veggie Pasta, Cheesy Skillet Spaghetti, and Portobello Chicken Lasagna.

Recipe Card

a serving of pasta with sun dried tomatoes, olives and cheese on top in a red bowl

Sun Dried Tomato Pasta

Sun Dried Tomato Pasta is a yummy Italian dish created with homemade marinara sauce, kalamata olives, cavatappi pasta, and sun dried tomatoes. Delizioso! 
5 from 5 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Dishes, Pasta
Cuisine: Italian
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Calories: 550kcal

*See notes in blog post for detailed tips, photos and instructions.



  • Sauté chopped garlic in a skillet with olive oil for one minute, making sure not to burn.
  • Add crushed tomatoes, kalamata olives and drained sun dried tomatoes. 
  • Add butter or olive oil and stir well.
  • Sprinkle with a dash of salt and dried oregano.
  • Cook over medium heat for 30 minutes, stirring frequently.
  • Bring cavatappi pasta to a boil in salted water for 10 minutes.
  • Transfer pasta to sauce in skillet with a slotted spoon.  Reserve pasta water.
  • Add a little pasta water to sauce if it becomes too thick. 
  • Stir pasta in skillet and cook over low heat until tender.
  • Serve pasta in bowls and garnish with grated parmesan.


  • The addition of butter makes this dish velvety smooth. 
  • This dish is vegetarian.  If meat is desired, add chopped pepperoni or salami just before serving. 


Calories: 550kcal | Carbohydrates: 102g | Protein: 19g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Sodium: 489mg | Potassium: 1052mg | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 13g | Vitamin C: 15mg | Calcium: 105mg | Iron: 5mg

Nutrition info is an auto generated estimate.

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  1. 5 stars
    I definitely love this recipe because I need more vegetarian options in my diet. Thanks Debi!

    1. I need more meatless meals too, Kara. It's especially good with the meat shortages we're having right now.

  2. 5 stars
    The flavors in this dish are outstanding!!! The olives add just a touch of salty, and this is a great "quick" recipe for week nights. I would serve this at a party for my friends too. DELICIOUS.

    1. Ooooh, Jane...I love your idea about serving Sun Dried Tomato Pasta at a party!! That sounds like fun! 🙂

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