This pasta Napolitana is as simple and classic as a tomato spaghetti can get. Burst cherry tomatoes, sweet sauted garlic and onion with a sprinkle of chilli flakes for some heat. The perfect 30 minute pasta.
Pasta is a go-to dinner for nearly everyone when time is short. Its quick and easy, comforting, cheap to make and most importantly, delicious.
Naples is known for growing some of the best tomatoes in the world. The main variety being San Marzano. Hence, the name of this easy vegan pasta sauce. The tomatoes are the star of the show in Napolitana pasta.
Why This Recipe Works
- Simple ingredients are brought together to create a very impressive but quick and easy dinner.
- The thick tomato sauce hugs the spaghetti noodles perfectly to get the right pasta to sauce ratio.
- The sweetness of the sauted garlic and onion balance out the acidity of the tomatoes and the chilli flakes have just the right amount of heat to bring the whole dish together.
- The peppery basil and creamy sharp parmesan are the only toppings you need for this bold and simple sauce.
- brown onion- my onion was huge so I only used half, but if your onions are small you can use the whole thing.
- fresh garlic
- fresh cherry tomatoes
- tin of cherry tomatoes- you can use chopped tomatoes here but if you have access to the cherry I'd definitely recommend them. They bring a bit more sweetness to the pasta.
- spaghetti- penne would work here too because the noodles have ridges that the sauce and cling to.
- olive oil, salt and black pepper
See the recipe card for quantities.
Step By Step Instructions
Step 1 & 2
- Start with some olive oil in a heavy bottomed pan. You can use a sauce pan here or a skillet with high sides works well too because of the large surface area.
- Gently saute the onions for about 3 minutes until they start to soften. Add in the minced garlic and continue to saute for another 3-5 minutes until the onions are very soft and translucent and the garlic is fragrant.
- Add the cherry tomatoes to the hot pan and give them a quick stir. They will burst and release their juices.
Top tip- Adding some salt to the onions while they saute will help to release the water and soften the onion.
Step 3 & 4
- Once the cherry tomatoes have burst, add in the tinned tomatoes and bring the sauce to a simmer, stirring occasionally. While the sauce is simmering, cook the pasta according to the package instructions. Save a cup of the pasta water before draining the noodles and setting aside.
- Add the chilli flakes to the sauce and taste and adjust the seasoning. If the sauce is too thick add some of the pasta water until you have a sauce that just coats the pasta.
- Using tongs toss the pasta in the sauce to coat the noodles well.
- Divide between bowls and top with grated parmesan and fresh basil.
Hint: Using the pasta cooking water to thin the sauce helps keep some of the body due to the starch in the water. Always save some pasta water!
You can add something fresh and light like garlic prawns or some grilled chicken. Alternatively you could try something like this slow cooker bolognese.
Of course you can! However, because this sauce is so simple each element really has a job to do. You might like this easy homemade pasta sauce which is also a basic sauce but doesn't have any chilli flakes.
Easily 3-4 days in a sealed container. It's also so great for freezing.
What to serve with pasta Naolitana
- Crusty bread - homemade Dutch oven bread
- Salad - kale salad with citrus dressing
- And a glass of red or rose works here too because the sauce is so fresh.
Equipment can have a big impact on how a recipe turns out. Cast iron is my go-to for most of my cooking requirements.
- Cast iron pan with lid- This pan is one of my favourites.
- Pasta pot- This pot is great for cooking pasta and steaming fresh veggies.
- Freezing- Pasta Napolitana freezes like a dream. It would be a great idea to keep a batch of this sauce in the freezer or busy nights. Freeze it in an airtight container or freezer bag.
- Fridge- It keeps in the fridge for 3-4 days. To reheat you can use the microwave or the stove top.
- This sauce is also great used on pizzas or in a lasagna.
- Add the basil right at the end of the cooking process otherwise it will turn black in the sauce.
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Easy 30 Minute Pasta Napoletana
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 yellow onion finely diced
- 3 cloves garlic minced/ chopped
- 400 g tin cherry tomatoes *see notes
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- ½ teaspoon crushed chili flakes
- 500 g spaghetti
- For serving
- Parmesan cheese shaved
- Cook the spaghetti according to the package instructions. Drain the pasta, saving a cup of the pasta water, and set it aside.
- In a heavy high-sided skillet heat the oil over medium heat. Once the oil is hot it will shimmer. Add the diced onion to the oil and saute for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic into the pan and saute for another 5 minutes. Season with sea salt.
- Mix the tomato paste into the onion and garlic and stir for 1 minute. Pour the tinned cherry tomatoes into the pan and bring to a gentle simmer. Simmer for 5-10 minutes until your desired consistency is reached and the flavours have a chance to marry together. Taste and adjust the seasoning. If the sauce is a little too thick, add some of the pasta water.
- Stir in the chili flakes and some chopped basil. Add the cooked pasta to the pan and toss to coat the spaghetti. Divide into bowls and serve with parmesan cheese and extra basil.
- I’ve used cherry tomatoes here, but you could easily substitute chopped tomatoes.
- Make a batch of this sauce to keep in the freezer for busy weeknights or an emergency dinner.