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Recipe of the Day: Penne al Pomodoro

Elana Horwich, author of Meal and a Spiel, uses humor and wisdom to teach intuitive cooking.

Penne al Pomodoro



  • 1⁄4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 large garlic cloves
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 large sprigs of basil leaves
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for pasta water
  • 1⁄2 pound penne rigate
  • Grated Parmigiano Reggiano, for garnish



  1. Place a medium pan over medium heat and let it get hot for a few minutes.
  2. Add the olive oil, the garlic, and the red pepper flakes, in that order.
  3. Let the garlic infuse its flavor into the olive oil. Watch the bubbles. Don’t let the garlic burn.
  4. Once the garlic has just taken on a slightly golden color, add the tomatoes and stir. Throw in the basil, stems and all. Add salt and stir. Let the tomatoes cook for about 10 to 15 minutes.
  5. When soft enough, smush the tomatoes down with a fork or with the back of a wooden spoon. Taste the sauce. If you want more flavor, add more salt.
  6. Once you can swipe your spoon across the bottom of the pan and it “parts like the Red Sea” for a moment before oozing its way back to the center, you are done. If you want it to be a little thicker, cook for a few minutes longer. Remove the pan from the heat.
  7. Bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat. Throw in a handful of kosher salt, followed by the pasta. Stir, and cook al dente.
  8. When the pasta is nearly done, turn the heat under the sauce to medium high, a fuoco vivace, a lively flame.
  9. Drain and add the pasta to the sauce. Toss until all the noodles are coated in the sauce.
  10. Serve and top with the grated Parmigiano.

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