It’s Like Alfredo and Marinara Had a Baby


I have said it once on this blog already and I will keep saying it until the day I die, I love pasta. I am addicted to it, I can just never get enough. One of the perks of pasta is that it makes for a ridiculously easy week night meal. All you have to do is boil some stuff for what, about 10 minutes, and then make a sauce. Child’s play.

I believe you get the point, pasta is awesome. But by this point you are probably wondering what makes this pretty looking pasta so special. This is penne with a tomato basil cream sauce. The sauce is so decadent in its texture from the cream, but the fresh basil, tomato paste, and garlic instills fresh flavors. Imagine this sauce to be marinara and alfredo’s love child. The tomato paste is really what makes this sauce magical. Normally when the word marinara comes to mind you think about tomatoes, onions, and herbs together. Forget what you know, tomato paste is all you need. Tomato paste has a super concentrated tomato flavor and makes everything you add it to taste like it has been cooking for hours. By far it is my favorite secret ingredient. It is probably best I tell you the rest of the ingredients now.


  • 1/2 pound penne rigate
  • 1 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 4 tblsp butter
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup reserved pasta water
  • 1/2 cup tomato paste
  • 2 tblsp fresh basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Start by getting a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook the pasta until al dente, one minute less than the package instructions. When you drain your pasta be sure to reserve a half cup of the water you cooked the pasta in because you will need it later.

Now for the sauce. Add the butter to your pan over medium-high heat. Once all the butter is melted add the garlic and give it two to three minutes to brown up. Pour in the heavy cream and give it a stir. Once the butter, garlic, and cream are mixed up turn the heat down to low and start adding your cheese. I mentioned it in my alfredo recipe, but make sure you only add about a third of the cheese at a time. Dumping all of it just seems to make your sauce gloppy. Once the cheese is fully incorporated add the nutmeg. Give the sauce about three to four minutes on its own over the low heat so it can reduce and intensify the parmesan flavor. At this point it will be pretty thick so add just a splash of your pasta water so it will have room to thicken more once the tomato is added. Congratulations, at this point you have created a garlic alfredo sauce. Now to take this sauce even further.

Turn the heat off and whisk the tomato paste, basil, and sugar into your sauce. You are going to want to make sure that the tomato paste is thoroughly mixed in. If you are lazy in your whisking then you will have lumps. After all of that is mixed in turn the heat onto low give the sauce about four minutes to cook down and reduce. If you do go four minutes and the sauce seems to thick for you then you still conveniently have pasta water to thin it out. At this point the pasta water is more of a fail safe than a necessity. When your sauce reaches desired thickness add salt and pepper to taste, mix in your pasta, and enjoy.

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