This recipe of angel hair pasta with tomatoes and basil is purported to be similar to the one served at Olive Garden restaurants. Many readers agree that this is very similar — if not an exact clone — to the famous restaurant dish. One reader suggests a little balsamic vinegar in the sauce. See the tips and variations section for that tip and some additional ingredients and substitutions.
Capellini is angel hair pasta (literal translation: little hairs) and pomodoro is the Italian word for tomato.
You can use canned tomatoes in the dish, but it is fantastic with garden fresh tomatoes. If you are lucky enough to have a garden with an abundance of fresh tomatoes and basil, this recipe is an excellent choice.
This dish is wonderful with a side of garlic bread and a tossed salad. You can even substitute spaghetti squash for the angel hair pasta. One of the easiest ways to cook spaghetti squash is in the microwave oven. The slow cooker or pressure cooker are two other easy ways.
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 cans (14.5 ounces each) good quality diced tomatoes, or about 2 pounds fresh peeled and diced tomatoes
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 12 ounces dry angel hair pasta (capellini)
- 2 cups fresh chopped basil leaves, loosely packed
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Heat the olive oil in a skillet or saute pan over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and cook for about 2 minutes, or until tender. Add tomatoes and pepper and heat through, stirring constantly, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat.
- Meanwhile, cook the angel hair pasta (capellini) in salted boiling water following the package directions. Drain well.
- Transfer the hot, drained pasta to a large serving bowl. Toss the pasta gently with tomato mixture, the fresh chopped basil, and half of the Parmesan cheese.
- Serve immediately and offer the remaining Parmesan cheese at the table.
Tips and Variations
- According to Kelly, a former Olive Garden staff member, the real dish has a little balsamic vinegar. She adds 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar to the tomato sauce, but feel free to experiment with the amount. She also recommends fresh asiago cheese or buffalo mozzarella.
- For a low carb option, substitute cooked spaghetti squash for the angel hair pasta. Zucchini or summer squash "pasta" is another option.
- Serve the finished pasta with grilled eggplant, zucchini, shrimp, or chicken.
- Crumbled cooked pancetta, ham, or bacon would also make a nice protein for this dish. Toss it with the tomato sauce or sprinkle some over each serving.