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healthy red sauce pasta

Red Sauce Pasta Recipe | Pasta in Marinara Sauce

This versatile red sauce pasta or pasta in marinara sauce can be made with any combination of veggies and proteins. It is tasty, healthy and can be made within 25 minutes from scratch. Try my recipe.
Course Main Course, Pasta
Cuisine Italian
Keyword pasta in red sauce, red sauce pasta
recipe healthy red sauce pasta, pasta in marinara sauce
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 6 people
Calories 279kcal


  • 1 lb. penne or pasta of any shape about 450 gm.

For the sauce

  • 28 oz. San Marzano tomatoes canned or fresh or use canned whole tomatoes
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 4 tbsp. Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp. black pepper coarsely ground fresh (optional)
  • 1 tsp. dry oregano
  • salt to taste
  • 1 tbsp. red or white wine optional
  • 1 cup cottage cheese or paneer optional
  • 1 cup vegetables broccoli, mushroom etc. optional

To garnish

  • Few Basil leaves
  • 2 tbsp. parmesan cheese grated
  • 1 tsp. red chilli flakes optional


Cook pasta

  • It is very important to cook the pasta correctly. Use a good quality pasta brand. Then cook as per instructions on the pack.
  • Boil about 6 cups of water in a large pan. Add 2 tbsp. of salt. When it comes to a rolling boil, add the pasta.
  • Keep cooking on medium heat till pasta is al dente or is almost cooked but has a bit of bite to it. Drain it and keep aside. 
  • Also keep a little bit of drained water which can be added to the sauce.

To make the Red Sauce or Marinara Sauce

  • Make the sauce while you are boiling the pasta.
  • Take olive oil in a pan. Add minced garlic and saute for a couple of minutes. Don't let them brown.
  • Add crushed tomatoes and let it cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes.
  • Now add your chopped veggies, if using. I add the broccoli florets first as they take longer than the chopped peppers and mushroom (optional). Cook for 2 minutes.
  • Now add your tofu or paneer cubes (optional). Cook for 2 minutes. Add salt and oregano. Mix well. Taste and adjust seasoning.
  • If you are adding wine, add it at this stage. Cook for another 2 minutes.
  • Now add the cooked pasta along with a few tbsp. of the boiled liquid.
  • Mix well. Turn off the heat. Garnish with chopped and whole basil leaves and grated cheese along with red chilli flakes (if you like heat).
  • Your pasta in red sauce is ready. Serve hot. 


1. Adding protein and veggies makes it a one-pot meal. Or you can skip these and pair the pasta with grilled protein and a salad or sauteed veggies on the side.
2. San Marzano tomatoes are the best to use, but I have used Roma tomatoes as well. They are delicious in this sauce as well as tomato paste for the concentrated taste.
3. Sometimes, I add a pinch of sugar to balance out the sourness of tomatoes.
4. If using leftover pasta water, remember that it is heavily salted.
5. Use good quality olive oil not pomace but extra virgin olive oil. You can drizzle some on top of pasta at the end if you like it.
6. Adjust heat according to your taste.
7. You can do away with wine if you are cooking for the kids. I love the flavour of wine in the pasta.
8. Parmesan works well as a final garnish, but you can use mozzarella as well.
9. Remember that pasta will not get salted if you forget to salt the boiling water while cooking it. Also always do it al dente and never completely mushy.


Calories: 279kcal | Carbohydrates: 43g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 1mg | Sodium: 50mg | Potassium: 522mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 584IU | Vitamin C: 13mg | Calcium: 102mg | Iron: 3mg