Tomato Paste Pasta Sauce is a quick and easy dish that comes together in less than 15 minutes. Perfect for nights when you don’t know what to make for dinner. I’ve been making this simple pasta for more than a decade. It is made with literally three ingredients ~ extra virgin olive oil, tomato paste and garlic. Toss with pasta and if you have fresh basil on hand, add some.
I’ve been making this pasta for my family for more than 10 years now. It’s also one of the most popular recipes on my blog when people are searching for recipes using just tomato pasta and pasta. With just three ingredients, this was often our first meal on vacation when my boys were young. We used to stay in a condo or house for family vacations to save money on meals. I’d pack the ingredients for tomato paste pasta in my suitcase so I could make this for lunch the following day without having to go to the supermarket.
This is also one of the first recipes I’ve taught my three oldest boys when he went off the meal plan in college. They have all missed my cooking after they left home, so this recipe is one of the easiest ways for them to get a taste of home. I still remember when I asked my oldest son what he would miss most about home once he was in college. He said, “your cooking.” Awe…that’s what makes preparing home cooked meals for my boys all these years worth it.
How To Make Tomato Paste Pasta Sauce
These are the original photos of Tomato Paste Pasta when I first posted this recipe six years ago.
Tomato Paste Pasta can be made in 15 minutes. First put a big pot of warm/hot water on the stove to cook the pasta. While you’re waiting for the water to come to a boil, heat the olive oil in a saucepan on medium heat and add the tomato paste and cook until it starts to caramelize. This adds extra flavor to the sauce – just be sure not to burn it. Add the garlic and cook until lightly browned. Once the pasta is cooked, reserve at least 1/2 cup of pasta cooking liquid, and drain the pasta. Stir the pasta cooking liquid into the tomato paste garlic mixture until a sauce forms.
My kids like this tomato sauce on the thicker side, and enjoy this on spaghetti, farfalle, or penne shaped pasta. Add more pasta cooking liquid if you like a thinner sauce, and serve with your favorite shape pasta.
Watch how easy this Tomato Paste Pasta recipe is to make:
Easy Tomato Paste Pasta Sauce
This is the easiest pasta sauce, using just three ingredients. My kids love it!
- 16 ounces dry pasta gluten-free or whole grain
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 small can (6 ounces) tomato paste
- 6 cloves garlic minced
- fresh basil leaves cut into chiffonade (very thin strips)
Cook pasta until al dente. Reserve ½ cup pasta cooking liquid. Drain pasta.
Meanwhile, heat olive oil and tomato paste over medium heat for one minute. Turn heat down to medium-low and cook 4-5 minutes to caramelize tomato paste and deepen the flavors. Do not burn. Add garlic and cook another minute until lightly browned. Add ¼ cup of pasta cooking liquid to tomato paste sauce and stir well. Add a little more pasta cooking liquid if a thinner sauce is desired.
Toss pasta with tomato sauce. Garnish with basil chiffonade. Serve immediately.
If you like this easy pasta recipe, you might like:
Pretend Chef says
Now that I'm a mama I look back and feel so bad for my mama how I was so quick to move out of the house. I was the baby of 5 kids so I can't imagine how it must have felt. The thought of my son someday moving out makes me emotional and I've got at least another 15 years before that happens. On the bright side, Itty Bitty would love this and I have everything on hand to put this together for him. Added to my must make list. Thanks for sharing Jeanette! Sending a big air hug your way!
Micheal Donarfartkabob says
Only five years now and that kid is a ward of the state. Great pasta sauce!
I am always up for a good pasta dish! Looks great!
I've heard from friends that they cried the whole way home after dropping off a son or daughter for college, so I think it's a difficult transition for a lot of people. How fun for your son though! And the spaghetti looks pretty comforting.
I found my eyes watering while reading your post and my sons are only 8mos and 2yrs. I hope the best for you in this new chapter of your life.
Great recipe too!
It's definitely been a tough week, still shedding tears when I least expect it. It is a new chapter in our lives and I know it is all part of transitioning into adulthood. I'm looking forward to the next time he comes home, I'm sure there will be many favorite recipe requests.
Alison @ Ingredients, Inc. says
oh this looks mouth watering. I was thinking pasta tonight 🙂
Oh Jeanette, I got tears in my eyes just reading this post. As much as we want our kids to grow and prosper "moving on" is never a good feeling. I hope he loves college & he comes home soon to hug his mama.
Love the pasta sauce. Simple & beautiful 🙂
Lock-down mode, I love it! These transitions aren't easy, are they? What a lovely and versatile pasta dish you've put together and, funnily enough, it reminds me a lot of the kind of food I ate through my university years… Simple but full of flavour and satisfaction.
Alison – Hope you have a chance to try, this is a super easy recipe.
Marla – You are so right. In my heart, I know that leaving home is all part of growing up, but it is so hard. Miss him dearly…and I think he will want this pasta his next visit home.
Sue/the view from great island says
I've been through this with my oldest, and now I'm in the midst of it with my youngest. There are a few silver linings…one is that you will have a chance to bond with your other children in new ways now that the eldest is in college. And just think of all the fun you'll have putting together 'care packages'!
The pasta looks like the perfect teen comfort food.
Shirley @ gfe says
Jeanette, I think this almost classifies as a "non-recipe"! How about entering it for Go Ahead Honey this month? 😉 I extended the deadline per our change in vacation plans. Read all about this month's theme here.
I totally remember taking son off to college. We shook off the sadness for a while, but then it would return. And every time he'd come home for the weekend, I'd go through it all over again when he left. It took a while to adjust. It's good for them and for those they leave behind (it can mean more time with other kids or in our case, more time as a couple), but it definitely takes adjusting. Tears can and will come at any moment, as you've already experienced.
Big hugs, Jeanette!
Aww Jeanette, I know (from experience) that it is just as hard for him to leave as it is for you to drop him off! My mom still cries every time she drops me off at my apartment…which is a 20 minute drive from where she lives. And when I lived in Boston…forget it. He'll be home again before you know it and then you can cook up a storm for him – delicious dishes like this pasta!
A SPICY PERSPECTIVE says
One of our family's favorites! So hearty and satisfying.
Sue – You are absolutely right about the silver lining in all of this. Our family dynamics are already changing and it will be a good time for me to enjoy the twins before they set off for college in a few years.
Shirley – I will definitely enter this recipe in your Go Ahead Honey event. And yes, the tears come at the most unexpected times.
Joanne – Thanks for sharing your college experience. He's have a blast, but I think he must miss us some – right?
Sommer – Glad you all enjoy this pasta dish – it is a bowl of comfort and my oldest son asks for this regularly.
hug jeanette! i don't know yet what it's like to have my child leave for college, but i do know that when i have kids one day, i'll be holding on to them so dearly… i didn't know you had 4 sons! do all of them have food allergies or just one of them?
Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) says
It will get easier as your son thrives at college. It will, I promise. Meanwhile, cook lots and lots of this pasta dish, for your sons who are still doing homework at your kitchen table.
Kim-Cook It Allergy Free says
Jeanette, I am already dreading the day my kids leave for college (and it is still at least 10 years away)! I feel for you so much right now and got all teary reading your post! Huge hugs to you. Now, I will have to make this yummy easy pasta!!
Oh Jeanette. That must be hard. I can't even imagine. It looks like a lovely and easy sauce anyone can make.
This one also looks good. How small is “1 small can tomato paste” in this recipe? I mean in US terms (eg cups) or metric terms (eg deciliters)?
Maurizio, a small can = 6 ounces in the U.S. Enjoy!
Shana Norris says
I’ll be there on Aug. 24th. We’ll be dropping my oldest daughter off at college 4+ hours away. I KNOW I’ll cry and be sad. I think it will be much harder when it’s my youngest I’m dropping off, but still, this will be hard.
Hugs to you, Jeanette.
Shana, I remember crying after I got back in the car to drive home…and then for at least a week after. Next year, my twins go off, and I think that will be just as hard if not harder, and then when my youngest leaves, that will be really hard. Best wishes – glad you have another at home to keep you company and keep you busy. xo
This happens to be one of my favorite meals from my childhood. My parents were raising 4 little girls on a very tight budget, and this meal was born one evening because there was nothing else to eat. My parents were worried when they served it we would turn our noses up and refuse to eat but we loved it. We named it Ta-roni (we used elbow macaroni) and begged them to make it all the time. 🙂
Kim – that is such a great story – my kids love this too!
Thanks Jeanette! My wife is off with her friends in NYC for the weekend for Comic Con and my 5 year-old asked for Spaghetti and sauce but didn’t want to drive to the store to get the sauce. I found a can of tomato paste, Googled “simple spaghetti sauce from tomato paste (ha ha) and of course you were right near the top. Very easy and Kai says the sauce tastes good so thank you for your John / idiot-proof recipes!
You are truly a blessing. Me and my bf are So broke right now after the holiday’s that we literally only had these ingredients, I Googled it. And there you were.. I’m cooking This now can’t Wait to eat I’m hungry. 😉 thx u…
Gabriella, so glad you were able to make this simple but delicious meal! Happy New Year!
I just made this because I only had a few ingredients around the house. Threw in some extra herbs and salt and pepper to taste. It was great for something so simple, and actually tasted better than those pre-made pasta sauce jars! Thanks!
Tom – so glad you tried this and I love your additions. This sauce has surprisingly deep flavors for such a simple recipe!
Ordinary Blogger (Rivki Locker) says
I haven’t gone through that separation yet (my oldest is 14) but it sounds awful!! This pasta sauce should provide you with some comfort. It looks lovely and simple.
I made this pasta sauce tonight. It was amazing! This is the first “easy” pasta sauce I’ve made that was really, really tasty. I usually end up making a pasta sauce in a slow cooker and it is far too runny. This was a great consistency.
KD – so glad you enjoyed this easy pasta sauce – it is my go-to dinner when I’m short on time.
I hope this recipe is never lost to man, it’s been my go-to for a while now. Thanks Jeanette.
Andrew – so glad you have been using this recipe – it’s one of our staples when we are short on time or ingredients 🙂
Thank you for saving dinner! My two year old and I had no food except spices, pasta, and hidden extra virgin olive oil, of course tomato paste, no money for food. Only difference I’ve made is adding typical Italian spices (Italian family), and 3 cubes of sugar so to even out the acidity. Now just to figure out today’s plan.
So glad your you enjoyed this easy inexpensive meal. Here’s another you might like (you can leave out the olives if you like): https://jeanetteshealthyliving.com/50-women-game-changers-in-food-rachel-ray-tuna-marinara-with-pasta/
Beth Ostrander says
6 cloves of garlic isn’t too much? I also was wondering about adding in roasted red peppers at the end when I throw in the garlic. Thanks!
You can use less garlic if you like. Roasted red peppers would be a nice addition.
Thanks Jeanette, yes it’s really tasty!
So glad you enjoyed this Parry!
This was delicious. I saw a similar thing cooked on youtube but need a little more info . There is only one of me so I improvised the amounts. I used 1 tablespoon olive oil, 2 cloves of smallish garlic, and one tablespoon of tomato puree. Added pasta water until I liked the consistency. It worked for me, perhaps a little less oil next time, maybe not though. It was good and v tasty and quick. Nice comfort food and good for you too. Pasta water was salted and I added fresh black pepper at the end. Thank you, will definitely do again (and again, I am sure.)
So glad you enjoyed this super easy but delicious recipe!
Bethany Rudisill says
Thanks! I’m snowed in and didn’t manage to grocery shop before the storm, and i’m really scraping the back of my pantry to find stuff to eat. Yay for this sauce and a bag of frozen tortellini in my fridge!
Sounds delicious! Yes – this is the easiest sauce when you have barely any ingredients in your house 🙂
I wasn’t sure how this would come together, as while the tomato paste and olive oil were cooking they didn’t mix very well. But as soon as the pasta water was added, it turned into an actual sauce. My husband gave his approval, and I’m pleasantly surprised that my acid reflux hasn’t complained, either. Thanks for a super-easy recipe that I’ll keep making when I need a quick dinner.
Hi Sharon – if you cook the tomato paste and olive oil long enough, it will start mixing together better. And yes, the pasta water does the trick to bind the sauce together. Glad you enjoyed this super easy recipe – thanks so much for your feedback!