Pasta is a bit of a weakness of mine, particularly the regular, non-whole grain variety. We don’t eat it very often so I consider it a splurge of sorts. A fabulous, carb-y splurge. A lot of you asked for Valentine’s Day dinner suggestions and this left me a bit overwhelmed. The possibilities are endless because it depends entirely on what type of food you like, how simple or involved you want it to be, fancy or casual, etc. With so many directions to choose from, eventually I settled on something that sounded really good to me and that thing was pasta.

Not just pasta, but also tomato cream sauce, oven roasted tomatoes and plenty of melted cheese. Now we’re talking. To me, this is an excellent special occasion sort of meal and would be a lovely choice for the holiday. So, if pasta is your thing, you’re all set for Valentine’s Day. If not, never fear! Tomorrow I’ll share a round up of several potential Valentine menus including suggestions for appetizers, sides, and/or desserts as well. (Incidentally, my second choice would be a Mexican feast. Cinco de Mayo, part dos – guacamole and margaritas are pretty romantic to me.)

  • Yield about 6 servings


  • 8 oz. pasta shapes, such as gemelli
  • 1 (28 oz.) can peeled whole tomatoes, with juices
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • ½ small onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • ½ tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1 tbsp. tomato paste
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 6 oz. mozzarella, cubed
  • 1 pint oven-roasted tomatoes
  • ¼-½ cup heavy cream
  • Minced fresh basil, to finish


  • 01

    Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add the pasta to the pot and cook according to the package directions, stopping 2 minutes before the recommended cooking time. Remove from the heat and drain well.

  • 02

    Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400˚ F. Add the tomatoes with juices to a blender (or use an immersion blender) and pulse until mostly smooth. Melt the butter in a large skillet or sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, red pepper flakes and tomato paste and cook just until fragrant and the tomato paste begins to brown, about 1 minute. Pour in the pureed tomato mixture, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and let simmer until the sauce is reduced by nearly half and thickened, about 6-8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the cream.

  • 03

    Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the cooked pasta, mozzarella, and oven roasted tomatoes. (If your skillet is too small, just use any baking dish that will fit everything.) Transfer to the oven and bake 10-12 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbling. Remove from the oven, let cool a few minutes, then top with the basil and serve warm.

  • 04


    • I haven’t tried this yet myself, but I suspect this could be made ahead of time. Make just up to the point of stirring the pasta, cheese and sauce all together, then cover and refrigerate. Bake later, adding a minute or two on to the baking time.
    • Feel free to use as much or as little cream as you like. I keep it on the lower side since this dish is already a splurge, but cream makes it extra delicious.