Sun Dried Tomato Pasta
on Feb 21, 2022, Updated Jul 08, 2022
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Made with pantry and fresh ingredients, this sun dried tomato pasta is a super easy recipe that’s perfect for a busy weeknight. But you will love it so much that it’s worthy of a weekend meal too. Maybe paired with a glass of wine.
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As I’ve said countless times, pasta is my go-to for dinner on pretty much any hectic day of the week. To make things even quicker, sometimes I try to pick ingredients that are already exciting as is and have so much flavor without me having to do more than just chopping them.
In this sun dried tomato pasta recipe, I use a jar of these magical tomatoes. I chop them and add them to sautéed garlic and spices that I limit to red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. That’s because these tomatoes don’t need anything else.
For something fresh, I mix in baby arugula leaves to finish the pasta. It’s a good balance with the amount of pantry ingredients.
And of course, the penne has lots of Parmesan to bring everything together. Unlike other recipes with these special tomatoes, I skip heavy cream and stick to good olive oil and a bit of pasta water to dress the noodles. Trust me, it works, and it feels appropriate no matter the season.
What Are Sun Dried Tomatoes?
Thinking about drying tomatoes out in the sun sounds like a Mediterranean dream. These ripe tomatoes are dried in the sun or in an oven. When they lose all their moisture and water, the flavors become really concentrated. Sun dried tomatoes are tart and strong in taste.
You can find them jarred in oil sometimes with Italian seasoning. The quality of this oil is not the best, so I drain the tomatoes and use fresh olive oil when I cook with them.
These tomatoes are also sold dry-packed in bags without any oil. In this case, you need to rehydrate and soak them in warm water.
Ingredients & Substitutions
This is what you need:
- Sun dried tomatoes are easy to find in the Italian food section at the grocery with the jarred olives, artichokes and other antipasti. If you prefer roasted peppers, you can chop them and swap some or all the tomatoes.
- Pasta: Penne rigate with ridges are what I like because they pick up the tomatoes and other ingredients. Corkscrew shapes like fusilli, rotini, cavatappi or gemelli are also great options.
- Garlic is so important for the recipe.
- Arugula has a nice peppery flavor. Lots of spinach is a good substitute.
- Parmesan: Stirred into the hot pasta, the cheese melts right in. I also sprinkle more on top as I serve it.
- Olive oil: Definitely use extra virgin olive oil.
- Red pepper flakes add a little bit of heat.
- Salt & pepper: Taste the pasta and add more seasonings as needed to the final dish.
- Parsley is a final herby finishing garnish. You could also use fresh basil.
How To Make Sun Dried Tomato Pasta
1. Cook the penne on the stove in a large pot of water. Usually, that’s around 10 minutes. Check the recommended time on the package directions. Make sure not to overcook it. You want the noodles to be al dente and have some bite. Save a half-cup pasta cooking water.
2. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet.
3. Add the minced garlic, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Sauté until fragrant.
4. Stir the tomatoes into the garlic and oil and continue cooking for a couple minutes.
5. Spoon the cooked pasta into the tomatoes and stir everything together. Then pour in the reserved pasta cooking water. It will bubble and quickly disappear, but as you stir the pasta and tomatoes, it will leave a silky coating with the oil on the pasta.
6. Stir in the Parmesan cheese.
7. Fold in the arugula. The greens will look like a lot in the skillet, but they will quickly wilt.
8. Garnish with parsley and more Parmesan before serving.
A salad is my pick to go with most pasta dishes including this one. Depending on the season, try an Italian chopped salad, arugula salad with lemon vinaigrette, roasted pepper panzanella or brussels sprout Caesar salad.
You can store leftover pasta in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 3 days. Adding more greens is a great way to eat it cold like a pasta salad. Or you can warm it in the microwave or in a large pan on the stove with a touch of oil.
More Easy Pasta Recipes
Did you try this simple pasta recipe? Please leave a rating and comment below. Thanks!
Sun Dried Tomato Pasta
- 10 ounces penne
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 8- ounce jar sun dried tomatoes, oil drained and roughly chopped
- 1/3 cup grated Parmesan plus more for serving
- 1-1/2 cups baby arugula
- 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
- Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Cook the penne until al dente according package instructions. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta water before draining in a strainer.
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Sauté the garlic, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Add the tomatoes and sauté for 2 minutes.
- Stir the pasta into the tomatoes.
- Pour in the reserved pasta cooking water letting it bubble for a couple minutes, stirring to coat the pasta.
- Fold in the Parmesan followed by the arugula.
- Garnish with parsley and additional cheese before serving.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.