Balsamic Penne Pasta

Some recipes are so simple you can’t really understand why they are so good.  Pair that with ingredients that don’t cost a lot and that you almost always have in your pantry, and it becomes a recipe that you make, and eat, time and time again.

This is one of those recipes.

It originally came from the Toronto Star, which was long considered the most reliable paper in Toronto.  While I was growing up, my parents had the paper delivered every day and faithfully read every page.  At any given point in the day,  I would find one or both of them reading the paper front to back.  They even had a read pile and yet to read pile for each other, so nothing was missed.

Since my mother was always looking to try new things, she would take note of anything new that she could try.   The heading for this one was “Weekend Gourmet”, I’d call it more of a family classic at this point. I am sure it’s almost 20 years old.  The colour of the paper in her recipe binder sure makes it look that way.

The recipe below is exactly how it was printed many moons ago.  But you can change it up by using a bit less oil and instead, keep the juices from the canned tomatoes if you are trying to cut out calories from oil.  I also usually put more balsamic in because I love it. But just so you know, my mother still makes it exactly the same.  Some things you don’t mess with.



  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced (or more if you dare)
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary, or 2 1/2 tsp dried, crushed leaves
  • 2 cups canned tomatoes, drained and diced
  • 500 grams penne
  • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste


Put olive oil and garlic in a skillet, turn heat to medium.  Add rosemary if fresh.  As soon as garlic begins to sizzle, add tomatoes, salt, and liberal grindings of pepper.  If you are using dried rosemary, add it now.

Cook about 10 to 12 minutes and then turn off heat.  Drop pasta into a pot of boiling, salted water.  Cook until al dente or firm to the bite.  Drain and transfer to skillet.  Turn heat on low, toss pasta with sauce about 2 minutes.  Turn off heat, make a well in middle of pasta.  Pour vinegar into well.  Draw pasta over it, toss for a few seconds, and serve.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

9 thoughts on “Balsamic Penne Pasta

  1. Definitely my go to for an easy delicious lunch! I got this recipe from you when I was 17 and I’m 37 now, so you’ve been sharing it for at least 20 years! I do use way less oil and keep the juice from the canned tomatoes, it thickens up beautifully. Annnnd, I too use way more balsamic.
    Love this recipe. Thanks again! xo


  2. I just made this and we all loved it! So easy too. I also reduced the oil to 1/4 cup and used the tomato liquid and increased the balsamic. Happy you have a blog now so we can learn the secrets of your delicious cooking 🙂 I hope you will post your 5 spice chicken we used to get from you in Playa, we loved it! Thank you!


    1. I’m glad you liked it! Its a big winner for such simple ingredients. For sure I will dig that chicken recipe up and make it, it’s been awhile! If there’s anything else you’d like to see, just let me know.


  3. I made your pasta! It was great! I had to add meat because…..well, it’s Jer after all. And the meat soaked up a lot of the liquid but it didn’t detract from the results…..but I had all the ingredients in the house and it came together quick and tasted fresh. Very nice. Thank you!


  4. I use full 1/2 cup evoo, and I use a can of whole plum tomatoes with juice. I break them down with a wooden spoon after cooking time for a thick velvety texture.


  5. I have to say, after having tried Balsamic vinegar from Modena at your place, that Italian food is definitely an ingredient in a any great friendship. Thanks again!


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