Step 1) – Let’s start by preparing the vegetables to make the Ortolana Sauce. So, peel and slice the onion. Wash, peel and cut the carrot into pieces (slices or sticks). Clean the bell peppers, removing the seeds and filaments, then cut them into pieces, not very small.
Step 2) – Cut the eggplant into chunks. Cut the zucchini into slices, not very thin.
Step 3) – Put all the vegetables in a pan and add the extra virgin olive oil, the garlic clove (peeled and whole) and a pinch of salt to taste.
Stir with a wooden spoon and simmer for 5 minutes.
For those who love STRONG FLAVORS: mince the garlic finely and add a hot chili pepper (fresh or dry).
Step 4) – Now add the tomato passata and cook for about 15 minutes on low heat, with a lid on. Remember to remove the garlic – if you left it whole – and the hot chili pepper before seasoning the pasta.
This Vegetable Sauce should not be too dry. If necessary, add a little hot water or vegetable broth.
The Ortolana Sauce is READY!
Now Cook and Dress the Pasta
Step 6) – Meanwhile, bring plenty of salted water to a boil to cook the pasta. When the water boils, add the pasta of your choice. We used the penne rigate, which takes about 10 minutes to cook al dente.
Step 7) – Drain the pasta and put in a serving bowl with the Ortolana sauce, mixing well to combine the vegetables with the pasta.
Pasta all’Ortolana is ready. Serve it hot and, if you like, with a little grated Parmigiano.
Pasta all’Ortolana: Storage
Serve the Pasta all’Ortolana as soon as it’s ready. If you don’t eat it all right away, you can store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 2 days, sealed in an airtight container.
This Vegetarian pasta recipe can also be enjoyed at room temperature without the need to reheat it, especially during the summer season.
We do not recommend freezing.
Pasta all’Ortolana: Variants and Tips
As already mentioned, the recipe for Pasta all’Ortolana is very versatile and does not have fixed and precise doses and ingredients.
You can follow our directions but also change the mix of vegetables according to your taste and season.
Seasonal Vegetable are Tastier
You can add GREEN BEANS or diced SQUASH, or replace onion with LEEK, which has a more delicate taste.
In spring, a few FRESH BASIL leaves added to the dish give it a fresh touch.
Variations Related to Italian Traditions and Local Products
Pasta all’ortolana typical of Campania, for example, in the mix of seasonal vegetables such as eggplants, zucchini, bell peppers and cherry tomatoes, also includes black olives from Gaeta and chopped capers.
There is also a Sicilian version of pasta with vegetables called “Pasta alla Siracusana” which adds to the sauce of vegetables (mainly bell peppers and eggplants) black olives, capers and 2-3 anchovies.
Tomato Passata or Fresh Tomatoes?
In this recipe we used tomato passata. Many, on the other hand, use fresh tomatoes cut into small pieces, like other vegetables.
Depending on this choice, it changes the look of this dish and the end result.
If you use TOMATO PASSATA, as we did, the vegetable sauce have a thicker and creamier part, the pasta is more seasoned and more homogeneous and is also colored by the red of the tomato passata.
If, on the other hand, you use CHOPPED TOMATOES with other vegetables, the only sauce that “binds” the pasta is the extra virgin olive oil. The pasta remains white, mixed with the stewed vegetables.
Maybe this version is better in summer when the tomatoes are at the top of their flavor. We recommend to enjoy it cold like any other pasta salad.