Cooking for One: Conchiglie al Pomodoro


Little pockets of yummy.

Little pockets of yummy.



cooking-for-one4I’ve been quiet here lately.  It’s because I’ve had a string of kitchen failures.  I’ve been desperately trying to make some successful quinoa, my brownies were lame, I had a late lunch and didn’t want a proper dinner – it’s a string of excuses, and tonight I had to go back to an old standby.  Tonight, I wanted something warm and comforting and easy.  Something like…pasta…with just a simple tomato sauce.  After all, tonight, it’s just for me, right?

Now, I know that this could be even “easier” if you stop to consider all the jarred pasta sauces out there.  At first glance, my recipe may not look much better, as it uses canned whole tomatoes.  But, these aren’t just any canned tomatoes: they’re San Marzano tomatoes.


The Goods

The Goods

San Marzano tomatoes are imported plum tomatoes from Naples, Italy.  The name denotes both the location where they are grown and the varietal of the tomato.  They’re a classic sauce tomato with a dense texture and bold flavor.  They’re much sweeter than slicing tomatoes or even Romas.  They also have fewer seed pockets, so a can of these beauties yields a luscious, thick sauce – nothing watery or runny.  Hunt’s doesn’t hold a candle to these.  Look for the colorful cans of imported Italian tomatoes at the market, then check to make sure that they hail from San Marzano.  You’ll also see the European Union D.O.P. emblem; these tomatoes are as precious to their region as Champagne is to, well, Champagne.


When I make my simple pomodoro sauce, I buy whole, canned San Marzano tomatoes.  While they’re cooking I bash them up with my wooden spoon to break them down a bit.  The sauce retains a chunky texture, but is very fork-friendly.  The little chunks pair perfectly with conchiglie (shell) pasta.  The large pieces of the tomatoes settle into the recesses of the pasta, and the sauce clings to the ridges.  They’re the perfect vehicle for showing off this simple, yet delicious, sauce.

In honor of them, I’m submitting this post to Weekend Herb Blogging #159, hosted by Siri of Siri’s Corner.

Conchiglie al Pomodoro (Shell Pasta with Tomato Sauce)


  • 1 C conchiglie pasta
  • 1 28 oz can San Marzano tomatoes.
  • 3 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
  • 2 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 T basil chiffonade, divided
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • a couple pinches of sugar (to taste as needed)


Cook pasta in salted water according to package directions.  While it cooks, heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large saucepan.  Add the garlic, and saute until the garlic is soft but not browned – just a minute or two.  Pour in the tomatoes, and break them up a bit with a wooden spoon.  Add a tablespoon of the basil and season with salt and pepper.  Bring to a steady simmer, stirring regularly and continuing to break up the tomatoes with your spoon.  When the sauce is heated, taste it. If needed, added a pinch or two of sugar and adjust seasonings to your taste.  Cover the sauce and simmer until the pasta is ready, stirring occasionally.  When the pasta is al dente, drain it and place in a serving bowl.  Ladle in enough sauce to dress the pasta liberally, and toss with the remaining basil leaves.  Pour the remaining pasta sauce into a freezer bag; it will keep up to a month in the freezer, or a few days in the refrigerator.  To reheat, thaw the sauce, heat until simmering, and toss with some fresh basil — all ready to enjoy for the next time.  

Serves 1.


10 thoughts on “Cooking for One: Conchiglie al Pomodoro

  1. That’s my ultimate go-to type of dish when things are going wrong and I want something easy, quick, comforting..all you said, too!!! Stabby pasta (as opposed to twirly, referring to fork usage) with a simple pomodoro sauce! Aren’t whole peeled tomatoes the best! Another thing I’ve become a huge fan of as a base for quick and simple tomato-based smooth sauces: Strained Tomatoes!

  2. San Marzanos are amazing right out of the can. I love them and nothing could be better than the recipe you have here. Pomodoro is our quickie favorite next to carbonara. Mmmm….As far as a quinoa recipe goes, I found a yummy one last summer. Can’t remember if I posted it or not b/c we were not at home when I made it. Sort of a non-spicy Southwest spin on it.

  3. @ Grace – My. I’m blushing – you describe pasta as sublimely as it tastes!

    @ Sara – I think of pasta in much the same way, too. Anything that requires stabbing as opposed to twirling is always a favorite. I’ll have to play with the strained tomatoes and see what I can come up with!

    @ kellypea – I’m a devoted fan of the quick pasta recipe. I’d love it if you sent me your quinoa recipe – I’m not willing to give up on it yet.

    @ Peppercorn Press – Perfect for a carb coma. I love fresh herbs to finish a comforting, warm sauce.

    @ Abby – Any night after work is a good excuse for something this tasty and easy. Hope yours turned out just as satisfying!

    @ Haalo – Agreed – one of the best and simplest meals I’ve had in a while.

    @ Daily Spud – Thanks so much! It certainly is tasty.

    @ Jo – how exciting! Thank you!!!!

    @ Tina – so glad you like it! Thanks for stopping by!

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