Serving Larchmont Village, Hancock Park, and the Greater Wilshire neighborhoods of Los Angeles since 2011.

Pasta with Easy Garlicky Tomato Sauce

Mom’s Tomato Garlic Dip forms the base of this this dreamy tomato sauce. (photos from Deborah Brooks)


Oh, there’s nothing like a rich garlicky, tomato sauce that’s been simmering slowly on the stove all day. Visions of an Italian grandmother (I’m sure that I had a Nonna in another life) stirring and tasting and fussing in her red stained apron come to mind. Most of us are too busy for that kind of cooking so we resort to jarred sauce for quick meals. Hey, I do it, too.

And, then, I had an “aha” moment while staring at a container of Mom’s Tomato Garlic Dip in the fridge as I wondered what I was going to throw together for a last minute dinner. What if that dip became the base to a tomato sauce? It’s tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, salt, basil and spices and so delicious!

So I tried it and…

Amazing!!! Like wow amazing! Like wow so easy! It’s the perfect blend of quick and homemade. Even if you think you can’t cook, you can make this dreamy sauce. No chopping and measuring other than a few spoons of EVOO, the few spoonfuls of dip and fresh chopped basil.

While there’s no cream in the dip, this sauce takes on a pink tinge from the creaminess of the whipped tomatoes and garlic. It’s somewhat reminiscent of a pink sauce with a good zing of garlic! I left the sauce chunky from the canned crushed tomatoes, which is my preference. If you want a completely smooth sauce use an immersion blender or buy canned tomato puree.

I made a large pot of sauce with 2 (28 oz.) cans of tomatoes. This makes enough for 2 (17.6 oz) packages of pasta. I make a big pot of sauce then refrigerate half for another night. You can also cut the recipe in half.

Here are some Nonna pasta cooking tips that will transform this simple recipe and your other pasta recipes:

Don’t drain the pasta in a colander in the sink. Use a small hand held strainer and transfer the pasta drained from the pasta cooking pot right to the sauce pot.


Use a small hand held strainer and transfer the pasta drained from the pasta cooking pot right to the sauce pot.


Pasta with ridges holds sauce well. Rigatoni or penne rigate are good for that. Toss the pasta with the sauce with the heat on low and then swirl in a Tablespoon of EVOO and the grated cheese. This will add creaminess. Add a few spoons of the pasta water if necessary as well. Turn off the heat and then add the chopped basil.

You can get the dip Wednesday and Sunday at the Mom’s table, at the Larchmont Farmer’s Market and the basil at the Country Fresh Herbs table. Sundays, Robertino Cucina has a great selection of dried Italian pastas. As for the canned tomatoes, I prefer the rich, sweetness of San Marzano. While more expensive they make a huge difference in taste and texture. I buy them at the local market, stocking up when I see a sale.


Pasta with Easy Garlicky Tomato Sauce:

1 ½ T plus 1 T extra virgin olive oil, divided
4 heaping T Mom’s Tomato Garlic Dip
2 28 oz. cans San Marzano Crushed Tomatoes
½ tsp Kosher salt or to taste, optional
1/3 cup grated vegan Parmesan cheese, (Violife makes a plant based Parmesan in a wedge for fresh grating. Or you can use packaged grated plant based Parmesan.)
¼ cup fresh chopped basil
Additional Parmesan and basil for serving
1 17.6 oz package imported Italian dried pasta

In a large pot heat the 1 ½ T olive oil over medium low heat until just shimmering. Add the Tomato Garlic Dip and stir vigorously to incorporate and heat through. Immediately add the canned tomatoes and again stir up vigorously to incorporate the dip into the canned tomatoes. Taste for seasoning and add salt if desired. Bring to a simmer, lower heat and cover, stirring up occasionally.

While the sauce is simmering, cook the pasta until just al dente. With a small hand held strainer, drain and transfer the pasta from the water to the sauce. Stir up the pasta and sauce to heat through while cooking on low. Swirl in the 1 T of EVOO and the grated cheese. Stir it all up again. Add a few T pasta water if more creaminess is desired. When pasta is hot turn off the heat and stir in the basil. Serve in individual bowls immediately with additional chopped basil and grated cheese. Refrigerate any leftovers.


Shop the Larchmont Farmers Market for the dip Wednesday and Sunday at the Mom’s table and the basil at the Country Fresh Herbs table. Sundays, Robertino Cucina has a great selection of dried Italian pastas.


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Deborah Brooks
Deborah Brooks
Deborah is currently a documentary film producer. She is also a former certified personal trainer and fitness nutrition coach. The shutdown of business due to Covid-19 and the implication of an animal wet market connection caused her to rethink her high animal protein food lifestyle. She has spent the last year exploring the world of plant based eating for her own health as well as the health of the planet and all of its sentient beings. Her recipes can be found on Instagram. She would love you to follow along on her journey.

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