Pasta, Mozzarella and Marinara Sauce

When I have gorgeous homegrown heirloom tomatoes sitting on the kitchen counter, I can’t help but try to capture their beauty with photographs.


Taking photos of tomatoes is what I was doing when my husband came home from work a few nights ago. He was hungry and there was no dinner in sight. He gently asked what we were going to eat. I lied and said I was just getting ready to make a marinara sauce. I asked him to go snip some basil. Marinara sauce only requires tomatoes, garlic, and basil and takes about ten minutes to prepare. I could have it made by the time it took the water to boil and the pasta to cook. Dinner.

Mise en Place:

Yield: 4 cups of sauce

Ingredients for the Marinara Sauce:
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
6-8 cloves garlic, smashed and sliced (about one small head of garlic)
4 pounds of ripe tomatoes, cored, seeded and rough-chopped (about 8-9 cups)
2 teaspoons sea salt
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes or dash of cayenne pepper
15 leaves of basil, stacked and sliced (aka chiffonade)
2 teaspoons sugar (optional- use if tomatoes are acidic)

Ingredients for the Pasta:
8-12 ounces mozzarella, cut into one-inch cubes
1 pound pasta, cooked al dente
Grated Reggiano Parmesan cheese

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. While waiting for water to boil, start prepping the vegetables.

Core tomatoes, slice in half (horizontally) and use your index finger to scoop out the seeds from each half. Next, rough-chop the tomatoes into 2-inch chunks. Note: If I have time, I sometimes do the extra step of peeling the tomatoes using the dipping them in boiling water method.

Smash, peel, and rough-chop the garlic.

Stack about 15-20 leaves of basil on a cutting board and slice into ribbons.

Pour the olive oil into a large sauté pan. I use a 6-quart pan. Warm the oil over medium heat and add the garlic. Sauté for about one minute until the garlic just starts to change color. Do not brown the garlic. If you do, discard it and start over.  Add the tomatoes.


Add salt and a pinch of red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper.  Cook on medium heat for about 8 – 10 minutes. Turn heat off and stir in basil. Taste and adjust seasoning. Delicious! You could eat with a spoon!


Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to package directions. If all goes according to plan, the pasta, and tomato sauce will be ready about the same time. Add pasta to a serving bowl. Add the mozzarella chunks and marinara sauce. Mix together and serve hot.


Pass the grated Reggiano Parmesan!


Here is a marinara sauce I made using only cherry tomatoes. It was sweet and delicious.


To see which varieties of regular tomatoes I am growing, check out this post and to see which varieties of cherry tomatoes, check this one.

Related Posts on Italian Style Cooked Vegetables
Grandma’s Italian Fried Cauliflower
Pasta e Fagioli, aka Pasta and Bean Soup
Roasted Spaghetti Squash with Asparagus and Chicken
Roasted Ratatouille
Amazingly Delicious Sautéed Carrots
Spiralized Zucchini (aka Zoodles) with Marinara Sauce
Baked Ziti with Eggplant


Follow my photos of vegetables growing, backyard chickens hanging out, and dinner preparations on Instagram at JudysChickens.

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© 2014-2017 Judy Wright. All rights reserved. Photos and text may only be used with written consent.

43 thoughts on “Pasta, Mozzarella and Marinara Sauce

  1. Lovely snaps, and thanks for posting a delicious and simple dish that even I can cook 🙂
    Full disclosure: I feel the same way about the beauty of vegetables. I watch their development day by day, and admire every change. Unfortunately, this often makes it genuinely difficult to harvest them: “Maybe tomorrow…” The only part that’s harder is thinning seedlings.

    1. Ha! I don’t do seedlings well, either. And the Kaffe Fassett cabbage — I can’t bring myself to pick it! If you haven’t read Lab Girl yet, pick up a copy. There’s a lot in there about plants. My husband and I have been listening to it. Good to hear from you!

      1. Thanks for the recommendation – I just reserved the audiobook on interlibrary loan. 8th in line, so may be winter listening!
        Did I miss the KF Kabbage? I’m picturing a cabbage in a massive knitted coat 😉

      2. I posted the photo of the gorgeous cabbage on Instagram, not the blog. Are you on Instagram?
        We didn’t finish Lab Girls and will probably have to wait another month ourselves until it becomes available again on Overdrive.

      3. No, I had to draw the line at IG, or I’d be online all day and never post anything but pictures. Twitter, Rav, and blogs 🙂

      4. Oh, and Pinterest. That’s a bit of a photographic timesink right there! But I find it a great place to store recipes, construction projects, and general inspiration 🙂

  2. Pick our first tomatoes last weekend. I planted very early here in Pennsylvania. April 1st to be exact. They were planted next to the house and I had to cover them a few times due to a few cold evenings. It was well worth it. Can’t wait to try your recipe. Enjoy your blog.

  3. Nice! This looks so easy and fast. I hadn’t thought about adding mozzarella chunks. And the tomato shots are wonderful!

  4. What beautiful tomatoes. So far only my Romas are ripe but can’t wait for my bigger tomatoes to be ready. I saw a great tip at a recent Whole Foods demonstration at the Brentwood Library for preparing tomatoes for a fresh sauce. Cut a large tomato in half and grate on a box grater directly into your bowl. Takes only a few seconds before you are left with only the skin left in your hand. Use for an uncooked sauce or your quickly cooked sauce.

  5. This looks awesome. As soon as the Jersey tomatoes come in – next week- I’m going to make me some.

  6. This post is making me hungry! I am going to make the fresh pasta/marinara/mozzarella this weekend. Thank you! Yum 🙂

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