Capellini Pomodoro

Angel hair pasta with tomato and basil sauce, sprinkled with Parmesan cheese

The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 12 mins
Total: 27 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
412 Calories
26g Fat
34g Carbs
13g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 412
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 26g 33%
Saturated Fat 6g 32%
Cholesterol 22mg 7%
Sodium 644mg 28%
Total Carbohydrate 34g 12%
Dietary Fiber 3g 11%
Total Sugars 3g
Protein 13g
Vitamin C 15mg 74%
Calcium 279mg 21%
Iron 2mg 13%
Potassium 349mg 7%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

This filling, simple recipe for angel hair pasta with a fresh tomato basil sauce, known as Capellini Pomodoro, is purported to be similar to the one served at the Olive Garden chain of restaurants. Many agree that this take on the classic Italian dish is very similar—if not an exact clone—to the famous restaurant's version. But no matter the origin and similarity in flavor to other pasta dishes, this easy pasta meal is a great weeknight dinner for busy families. It's ready in less than 30 minutes, and the ingredients could be sitting in your cupboard right now. The thin texture of the pasta is the perfect accompaniment to the fruity, fragrant sauce, while a handful of tangy and salty Parmesan tops the dish.

Capellini ("little hairs" in Italian) and angel hair pasta are similar products but are sold under different names. The first is, obviously, of Italian origin, and the latter is the English denomination for it. The thickness of the pasta is also similar, with the angel hair slightly thinner. For our recipe, you could use either one.

This dish is wonderful with a side of garlic bread and a tossed salad.


Click Play to See This Capellini Pomodoro Recipe Come Together


  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

  • 2 (14.5-ounce) cans diced tomatoes

  • Kosher salt, to taste

  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  • 12 ounces angel hair pasta, or capellini

  • 2 loosely packed cups basil leaves, chopped

  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for angel hair pasta with tomatoes and basil sauce recipe gathered

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  2. 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 and fragrant.

    Garlic and oil in a frying pan on a burner

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  3. Add tomatoes, salt, and pepper to taste and heat through, stirring constantly, for about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat.

    Chunky thick tomato sauce being stirred in the frying pan on a burner

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  4. Bring a tall pasta pot filled with water to a rapid boil. Salt generously.

  5. Cook the angel hair pasta following the package directions. Drain well.

    Angel hair pasta in a colander

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  6. Transfer the hot, drained pasta to a large serving bowl. Top with the tomato sauce, chopped basil, and Parmesan.

  7. Gently toss the pasta so it can soak up the sauce.

    Angel hair pasta tossed with tomato sauce and basil in a large bowl

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

  8. Serve immediately and enjoy!

    Angel hair with tomato sauce and basil and sprinkled with Parmesan on a plate

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Chistruga

Recipe Variation

Flavorful Additions and Substitutions

This is a very forgiving recipe, but also a simple-enough preparation for other ingredients and additions to find a place:

  • Replace the canned tomatoes with 2 pounds fresh, peeled, and diced tomatoes.
  • Add 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar to the tomato sauce. The vinegar brightens up the overall flavor of the sauce.
  • Add a pinch of sugar to the tomato sauce while cooking. The sugar reduces the acidity of the tomatoes, so a pinch is a good start, but depending on the type of tomato you are using you might find that a little more than a pinch makes a real and flavorful difference.
  • Use a blend of dried herbs to add to the sauce: thyme, sage, oregano, marjoram, parsley, and rosemary are great additions.
  • Sautee 1 cup of white mushrooms in some olive oil. Once they're cooked and browned, add into the tomato sauce.
  • Use Asiago cheese or cubed mozzarella di buffala; the creaminess of these cheeses complements the fresh tomato sauce.
  • Add 1 teaspoon of chopped chili flakes into the tomato mixture for a spicy version of the Pomodoro sauce.
  • Substitute cooked spaghetti squash for the angel hair pasta. Zucchini or summer squash "pasta" is another option for a low-carb meal.
  • Add 1/4 cup of cooked pancetta, ham, or bacon into the tomato sauce to add some flavor and fat.