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Playing Comfort Food Recipes: How To Make Penne a la Vodka & Cheese-Stuffed Garlic Bread

This tomato sauce is best at the peak of summer when tomatoes are their ripest. I’ve always loved fresh tomato sauce but I hate having to blanch and peel the tomatoes because it’s so time consuming. Using a cheese grater is a great shortcut—or should I say ‘grate’ short cut!

See how this recipe was made on Facebook Live!


  • 2 pounds very red tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound sweet Italian sausage
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 2 tablespoons tomatoes paste
  • 1/2 cup white wine or chicken stock
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano or fresh
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • A parmesan rind (optional)
  • A handful basil, torn
  • 1 pound rigatoni or whatever short cut pasta you prefer
  • A handful parsley, chopped
  • Grated parmesan, for topping


Serves: 4


Place a cheese grater over a large bowl. Cut each of the tomatoes in half and grate the tomatoes into the bowl until you reach the skin of the tomato; discard the skin.

In a Dutch oven or large saucepot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and brown, breaking it up with a spatula as it cooks. Once brown, add the onion and garlic, and sauté for a few minutes. Add in the tomato paste and cook for another minute, just until it melts. Deglaze the pan with the wine or stock, and bring it to a bubble. Once bubbling, season with salt, oregano and crushed red pepper flakes. Add in all of the grated tomatoes and bring to a bubble. Reduce heat to medium low and cook for 1 hour, or until sauce it reduced by half.

Meanwhile, bring a pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Add a tablespoon of salt then the rigatoni and cook just shy of al dente. Drain the pasta and add it to the bubbling sauce to cook for a minute or two, until the sauce starts to adhere to the pasta. Add in the basil.

Dish the pasta into shallow bowls and top with parsley and grated cheese.