Pasta with balsamico onion and fresh tomato sauce is an easy pasta dish that only requires a handful of ingredients. Fresh tomato pasta sauce is probably the simplest Italian dish you can prepare. The addition of a splash of balsamico vinegar to red onion soffritto turns a simple tomato pasta to a delicious main course.
Having guests coming for dinner on short notice? Italian food is always a good idea. Whether you just want to have a spontaneous get-together, or you made last-minute plans for a dinner with friends, a hearty plate of pasta is the kind of food that could make everyone happy. Balsamico onion sauce with fresh tomatoes is a guaranteed success when you’re short on time but still want to impress.
You don’t need to go too far when it comes to pasta condiment. This balsamic pasta sauce only requires fresh tomatoes and onions, plus olive oil, balsamico and salt. Sure a proper slow-cooked ragù is a fabulous pasta sauce option, but sometimes you just don’t have the time, or the energy, to prepare something that requires a lot of time and ingredients.
But if you do have the time, here’s my authentic bolognese meat sauce!
Tomato pasta with balsamico onion ingredients
Making pasta with onions and fresh tomatoes is a simple combination of pasta, fresh produce and condiments. Don’t believe me? Here’s what you will need.
- Fresh tomatoes – if you have the possibility to grab ripe fresh tomatoes, go for those. If it’s the wrong time of the year and fresh tomatoes are rather tasteless, it’s okay to go with canned.
- Red onions – red onions are sweet and once they caramelize with the balsamico they take up a pretty colour that looks great on this pasta.
- Pasta – your favourite, why not? I would recommend something short like casarecce.
- Balsamico vinegar – the actual vinegar, not a glaze. Preferably one that is from Italy and marked IGP (protected geographical indication).
- Olive oil – choose a good quality olive oil, possibly extra-virgin. Oil is more than just a condiment.
- Salt – to be used both in the pasta water and in the sauce.
How to make balsamico onion pasta sauce with fresh tomatoes
The first thing to do is to take care of the fresh ingredients. In fresh tomato pasta sauces I personally prefer to remove the skin from the tomatoes. You could leave it on, but I find tomato skins annoying in a sauce. I only leave them on when I am so short on time I can’t be bothered, but peeling the tomatoes really isn’t much of a job. It’s actually pretty easy if you soak them in boiling water.
- Set a pot of water on high heat and bring it to a boil. When it boils, add the tomatoes and leave them in the boiling water for about 1 minutes. Drain the water and let the tomatoes cool until they are safe to handle.
- In the meantime, peel and slice the onions. For this recipe, I find that 2-mm slices work best.
- When the tomatoes have cooled enough that you can handle them, remove the skin and chop them.
- Warm the oil in a skillet and add the onions. Sweat the onions on medium heat for about 10 minutes, stirring from time to time to prevent them from burning.
- When the onions are soft, add 2 tbsp balsamico and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring to distribute the condiment and letting it evaporate. The onions will begin to caramelize.
Balsamico is the star also in my caramelized onion relish!
- Add the chopped tomatoes and salt to taste, stir and cook uncovered for a couple of minutes.
- Cover and let simmer for 5-6 minutes.
- After simmering the sauce covered, remove the lid and lightly press the tomatoes with a spoon to gently mash them. Keep simmering uncovered to evaporate any excess water.
While you are taking care of the sauce, it’s time to set up a fresh pot of water for your pasta. I do not recommend using the same water you have used to soften your tomatoes. Bring the water to a boil, then add the salt and pasta. Cook the pasta following the suggested cooking time on the package.
The tomato sauce might get ready before the pasta is done cooking. Once the sauce has thickened, keep it on the lowest heat until the pasta is done. You want to keep it warm until it’s time to add the pasta to it.
When the pasta is cooked, drain it and combine the pasta with the fresh tomato balsamico onion sauce. Add a couple of fresh basil leaves for decoration (optional) and serve immediately.
Can I use canned tomatoes?
As you can see in my pictures, this sauce is quite dry. This is not the kind of pasta that drowns in tomato sauce. Most of the water from the fresh tomatoes has been evaporated and what you have left is the fresh tomato pulp together with the caramelized balsamico onions. To me, this is perfect for the summer, when you want a lighter pasta that almost feels like a warm pasta salad.
If you want a thicker pasta sauce, reduce the amount of pasta so to have a higher sauce-pasta ratio. Alternatively, you can used canned crushed tomatoes, or even add some tomato concentrate before most of the water has been evaporated. If you’re looking for this “drier” summer effect using canned tomatoes, definitely use whole tomatoes without their liquid.
Canned tomatoes are also great in Polish tomato soup pomidorowa.
More vegetarian pasta dishes?
While I’m a sucker for a good plate of pasta with meat sauce, there are a lot of vegetarian pasta dishes that I love to make. Here are some links to inspire your next vegetarian pasta dish:
- Baked pasta casserole with eggplant sauce
- Creamy pasta with roasted cherry tomatoes
- Pasta with creamy walnut sauce
- Vegan sun-dried tomato pesto with capers
As for what’s in the glass, I have become a fan of Kiwi Pinot Noir after our trip to New Zealand. I was elated to find Pinot Noir from New Zealand at my local liquor store, so that’s what’s in the glass. I generally love full-bodied red wines, but a lighter option is just the perfect pairing to this fresh tomato pasta with balsamico onion!
Tomato pasta with balsamico onion
- 4 tomatoes
- 2 red onions
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp balsamico vinegar
- 400 g pasta
- Set a pot of water on medium-high heat. When it reaches boiling, add the tomatoes to the water and boil them for 1 minute. Remove from the water and let cool until safe to handle. Drain the water and set the pot aside.
- In the meantime, peel and cut the onions in half, then proceed to slice them to rather thin slices (1-2 mm).
- Warm up a skillet on medium heat and add 3 tbsp olive oil. When the oil is warm, add the sliced onions.
- Sweat the onions on medium heat for 10 minutes, always moving them around to prevent them from burning.
- As the onions are sweating, carefully peel and chop the tomatoes and set aside.
- When the onions are soft, add 2 tbsp balsamico and cook for 2 minutes, stirring to distribute the condiment and letting it evaporate. The onions will begin to caramelise.
- Add the chopped tomatoes and salt to taste, stir and cook uncovered for a couple of minutes, then cover and let simmer covered for 5-6 minutes.
- In the meantime, set a pot of water for the pasta to cook. When the water boils, add salt and pasta and cook according to package instructions.
- After simmering the sauce covered, remove the lid and lightly press the tomatoes with a spoon to gently mash them. Keep simmering it uncovered to evaporate any excess water. When the sauce has thickened, keep it on the lowest heat until the pasta is done.
- When the pasta is done cooking, drain it and then add cooked pasta to the sauce skillet. Toss to distribute the sauce and serve.