Penne with Tomatoes and Balsamic Vinegar

rosemary sauce plated *

Who would think to combine rosemary and balsamic vinegar, together with tomatoes, garlic and olive oil, to create a lusciously light and simple sauce to put over penne or any other short tubular pasta? Marcella Hazan, the “Mother of Italian Cooking” sure did. I’m so glad she did, as this is one of my favorite quick, summer, sauces. She takes the basic ingredients for tomato sauce, and puts a sweet and fragrant twist on it, that I never would have thought would work, but it certainly does. Her method is also unusual. You add the vinegar after the pasta has been tossed in the pan with the sauce. She has you make a well in the middle of the pasta, and then has you pour the vinegar into the well. I don’t totally understand why, but I would never deviate from this. If Marcella Hazan said this is how it’s to be done, then I will follow her instructions each and every time.

At this time of year, I always have lots of rosemary bushes growing on my deck, so this truly becomes my “go-to sauce” all summer long.  Okay, one of my “go-to sauces.” I do have many, and so do you if you go to my archives.  I often add extra rosemary because I am crazy about the aroma. Off the subject…..if you tie several rosemary sprigs together and hang them from your shower head, your shower will be filled with this wonderful fragrance.

Back to the subject…this sauce is so quick to make. By the time the water boils and the pasta cooks (al dente,please), your sauce will be ready. Honestly, you will be sitting down to enjoy this in under 20 minutes! Buon Apetito!

RECIPE:  serves 4

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

3 or 4 garlic cloves, sliced thinly

2 sprigs fresh rosemary, about 4 to 6 inches long ( can use more) or 2 1/2 tsp dried leaves, chopped ( just not the same)

2 cups canned Italian peeled plum tomatoes, drained of their juice. ( I squish them, of course)


ground pepper

1 pound penne or other quill shaped tubular pasta

2 tsp. balsamic vinegar

1.  Put the olive oil and garlic into a sauté pan or skillet with, if fresh, the rosemary. ( my fingers are crossed that you are using fresh)

2.  As soon as the garlic comes to a sizzle, add the tomatoes, salt and liberal grindings of pepper.  If using dried rosemary (please tell me your’e not),  add it now.

3.  Cook for about 10 to 12 minutes, then turn off the heat.

4.  Meanwhile cook the pasta in a pot of abundant boiling water.  When it is done , markedly al dente, drain and transfer immediately to the pan containing the sauce.

5.  Turn on the heat to very low and toss the pasta with the sauce for about 1 minute.

6.  Turn off the heat and make a well in the middle of the pasta.  Pour the vinegar into the well, and draw the pasta over it, tossing thoroughly for a few seconds.  I garnish with some extra sprigs of rosemary just because I can’t get enough of the fragrance.  Serve at once.

**Note:  Sometimes I add 1 TBSP to help the sauce come together.

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