Pasta Cooked in Garlicky Tomato Sauce

IN THIS traditional dish, which is made all over the islands, the pasta is cooked like a risotto, stirred in a flavorful tomato sauce with plenty of garlic until it is al dente. Homemade pastas of all kinds and shapes are cooked this way, often in a meat or seafood broth instead of tomato sauce.


  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • 3–5 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1–2 teaspoons Aleppo pepper or ½–1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • ½ cup dry red wine
  • 2 cups grated ripe tomatoes (see Note) or one 16-ounce can diced tomatoes with their juice
  • pinch of sugar (optional)
  • 5 cups Chicken Stock
  • Salt
  • 1 pound penne, ziti or other hollow macaroni
  • cup grated hard myzithra, pecorino Romano or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for sprinkling
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley


In a large skillet, heat the oil and sauté the onions over medium heat until soft, about 4 minutes. Add as much garlic as you like and stir a few times; do not let it color. Add the pepper or pepper flakes and pour in the wine. As it bubbles, add the tomatoes and sugar, if using. Bring to a boil and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the sauce starts to thicken.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, bring the stock to a low simmer. Add salt to taste.

Pour about 2 cups of the stock into the tomato sauce. Bring to a boil and add the pasta. Stir to coat with the sauce and cook, stirring often and adding more stock as the pasta absorbs the liquid, until it is cooked al dente, about 20 minutes (you may not need all the stock).

Add the cheese, toss and transfer to a heated bowl. Sprinkle with the parsley and serve immediately, passing more grated cheese in a bowl.

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