Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Recipe for Penne Pasta with Tomato, Herb, and Feta No-Cook Pasta Sauce

Penne Pasta with Tomato, Herb, and Feta No-Cook Pasta SauceWhen I first tried no-cook pasta sauce made with juicy vine-ripened tomatoes, I was thrilled to discover how flavorful the raw tomato sauce was over pasta. In this type of sauce, the tomatoes are cut up, tossed with herbs and olive oil, and then they marinate on the counter for a few hours. This version gives the sauce a Greek twist, with some Feta cheese added when you cook the pasta. You should only make this type of sauce when you have fresh vine-ripened tomatoes from your garden or farmers market, but if you have a surplus of tomatoes right now, this is a delicious way to use them.

Chop one pound of fresh, vine-ripened tomatoes. (This is a four-cup measuring cup, so it's just about 2 cups of chopped tomatoes.)

Thinly slice 1/2 cup green onions.

Chop 1/4 cup parsley (I used flat-leaf Italian parsley.)

Chop or slice 1/4 cup fresh basil. (I sliced the basil in chiffonade slices.)

Finely chop 2 tsp. fresh oregano. (Oregano is a strong flavor, so I wouldn't increase this amount unless you really like it.)

Toss together the chopped tomatoes, chopped herbs, olive oil, and lemon juice, and let the sauce marinate at room temperature for at least one hour and up to 4 hours.

When you start the pasta water boiling, crumble about 3 oz. of Feta cheese and add to the pasta sauce.

Cook pasta in boiling salted water until it's barely al dente (about 8-9 minutes) and drain well. (I used Dreamfields penne.)

Toss the drained pasta with the sauce and serve immediately.

Penne Pasta with Tomato, Herb, and Feta No-Cook Pasta Sauce
(Makes 3-4 servings, recipe adapted from Bon Appetit, August 2002.)

1 lb. fresh vine-ripened tomatoes, chopped (about 2 cups chopped tomatoes)
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onion
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup chopped or thinly-sliced basil
2 tsp. finely chopped fresh oregano
(You could vary the fresh herbs, depending on what you have. The original recipe used dill, which I tried, but I preferred it with basil. Mint also might be good.)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil (use a good quality olive oil for this recipe)
2 tsp. fresh-squeezed lemon juice
3 oz. crumbled Feta Cheese (or more)
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste (I used a lot of pepper, but not much salt)
7-8 oz. penne pasta (I used 1/2 box Dreamfields penne.)
generous amount salt, for pasta water

Chop tomatoes and put into plastic or glass bowl that's large enough to hold all the sauce and pasta. Slice green onions, chop parsley, slice or chop basil, and chop oregano and add to tomatoes. Add olive oil and lemon juice and stir a few times to combine. Let sauce marinate on the counter for 1-4 hours.

When you're ready to serve the pasta, fill a medium-sized pot half full with water, add a generous amount of salt, and bring to a boil. While you're waiting for the water to boil, crumble 3 oz. Feta cheese and stir into pasta sauce.

When water boils, add pasta, stir, reduce heat to a low boil and cook until pasta is barely al dente. (This was 9 minutes for the Dreamfields pasta I used, but check the package for cooking times.)

Drain pasta in a colander placed in the sink, let cool for 1-2 minutes, and then stir into sauce. Season to taste with salt and fresh-ground black pepper and serve immediately.

Printer Friendly Recipe

South Beach Suggestions:
Using Dreamfields or whole wheat pasta would make this dish suitable for phase 2 or 3 of the South Beach Diet. I'd eat a smaller portion of this with a protein for phase 2, and have pasta as the main course for phase 3.  (Edit June 2011 - I have recently learned that if Dreamfields pasta is cooked for a long time or reheated it increases the glycemic index, so this recipe is probably only for phase 3 if reheated.)

More Ideas for No-Cook Pasta Sauce:
(Recipes from other blogs may not always be South Beach Diet friendly; check ingredients.)
No-Cook Pasta Sauce with Fresh Tomatoes, Basil, and Thyme from Kalyn's Kitchen
Raw Tomato Sauce from Words to Eat By
No-Cook Tomato Sauce from Andrea Meyers
Raw Tomato Sauce from Elana's Pantry
Linguini with Raw Tomato Sauce from Eat the Right Stuff
Pasta Provencal with Basil, Sweet Pepper, Tomatoes, and Olives from TasteFood
Caprese Pasta from Iron Stef
(Want even more recipes? I find these recipes from other blogs using Food Blog Search.)counter customizable free hit
Posts may include links to my affiliate account at, and this blog earns a few cents on the dollar if readers purchase the items I recommend, so thanks for supporting my blog when you shop at Amazon!


  1. Great summer meal. I love the no cook sauce.

  2. Look at all of those gorgeous herbs and tomatoes from your garden! This dish is absolutely glowing in your photos, and it looks fantastic.

  3. I love fresh sauces on pasta during the warmer months, much more refreshing and you get such a different flavor! Looks great =D

  4. Maria, thanks. This is a perfect summer dinner for me.

    Lydia, thanks so much. I feel lucky to have access to all the garden stuff. Really makes it easy to make this type of recipe (not sure I would make it if I had to buy all those herbs.)

    Healthy and Homemade, me too. So summery tasting.

  5. I made my first raw tomato sauce this year and loved it. The feta addition is an awesome twist, especially for an addict such as myself!

  6. This is one of my all-time favourites to celebrate summer!!

  7. Joanne, another Feta addict here!

    Val, my new favorite as well.

  8. Hi Kalyn, your pasta looks FANTASTIC. And thanks for the shout-out! I've been making a raw-zucchini sauce that's terrific lately, too. So much fun to play with no-cook stuff...

  9. That looks so refreshing and good. What a fresh dish!

  10. I've often tossed fresh, ripe tomatoes and feta in pasta for an easy, healthy, yummy, dish but I LOVE all the fresh chopped herbs and green onions you've added. Wow I'll bet that tasted amazing! On my list!

  11. This looks so good.I've had pasta once this summer because I just can't seem to get into heavy sauces (even when they're lighter, when it's 100 degrees out that is still too heavy). Love the no-cook concept.

  12. Debbie, thanks and I love the idea of a raw zucchini sauce too!

    Kristen, thanks, such a good way to use fresh tomatoes.

    Jamie, I was skeptical about the amount of green onions, but it was great! I might put even more basil next time.

    Maris, love the idea of no-cook sauce. I think you could even cut up before work, then marinate all day on the counter.

  13. That looks so delicious! I will have to try this out before the tomato season comes to an end :-( Fall to look forward to.. But first, I will give this a try!

  14. Sea Eats Art, do try it. This is so easy and good.

    Inanoyster, this isn't really a pasta salad, the pasta is warm but the sauce isn't cooked. It is delish though!

  15. Mmmm-mmmm!!! *sings* These are a few of my favorite things.....

    I am so in love with summer foods and fresh pasta sauces. This recipe got my attention and THEN some!

  16. I might have to toss a few Kalamata olives in there for good measure. I have all the ingredients on hand and it's a steamy 88 deg. with 84% humidity here. I know what I'm having for dinner tonight. Thanks Kalyn.

  17. CJ, I love the idea of adding kalamata olives. (Now why didn't I think of that!!) Try not to melt!

  18. Who wants to simmer a sauce all day long in the heat? No cook pasta sauces are my favorite choice for summer pasta. Yours looks divine. Please send some over. Stat. ;-)

  19. Karina, even better, why don't you come here and eat it with me!

  20. Gorgeous sauce--I like it with cooked shrimp, too. Keep seeing your name from Lydia W's posts and finally have to say HI! My mom's maiden name was Denny; she was from near Macomb, Mississippi, but moved to Chicago at 18 or 19 to be near her sisters, Nell and Georgia and brother Nolan. Anyway, maybe we have some family in common somewhere.
    Happy Weekend from Alyce @moretimeatthetable.

  21. Hi Alyce. I adore Lydia; we are great friends. Love your idea of adding shrimp to this too. I don't know of any Denny relatives from either Mississippi or Chicago, but maybe way back we are related!


Thanks for joining the conversation! I love hearing from readers and even though I can't always reply to every comment, I will always answer specific questions on a recipe as soon as possible. Sometimes I'm answering by iPhone, so my replies may be short!

Comments don't appear on the blog until they're approved by me, so no need to try again if you don't see it when you post the comment! Please make your signature a link to your site if you're a blogger, but other links posted within the body of the comment will never be published.

Blogging tips