Penne with tomato sauce, halloumi and mint

The story: In our country there is an abundance of tasty ripe tomatoes from May to the end of October. We always use them in cooking and we often grate and freeze them so we can also use them when they are not in season.

All households have their own recipe for a tomato sauce. This is our version.

Basic tomato sauce – Ingredients

  • 1 kg of ripe tomatoes
  • 2 table spoons of tomato paste
  • 4 table spoons of olive oil
  • 1 large finely chopped onion
  • 2 cloves of finely chopped garlic
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Chili flakes
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Orange peel
  • Cinnamon sticks
  • Cardamom pods
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar
  • 1 glass of white wine
  • Finely chopped parsley

Additional ingredients

  • 1/2 kg of penne
  • Halloumi cheese cut in cubes
  • Freshly grated parmesan or any other hard cheese suitable for pasta
  • ¾ cup of fresh mint finely chopped

Method – Tomato sauce

  • Remove the skin of the tomatoes and grate them. (You can always use tin tomatoes).
  • Put the olive oil in a non stick pan with the onion and the garlic on medium heat and stir until soft.
  • Add the tomatoes, the bay leaves, the cinnamon stick, the orange peel, the cardamom, the chili flakes, the salt and pepper and the sugar.
  • Stir every two or three minutes until it starts boiling.
  • Add the wine and the tomato paste and bring to boil.
  • Reduce the heat to low so that it simmers and cook until the sauce thickens.
  • Add the parsley and continue simmering for another 3 minutes.

It usually takes 45 minutes to 1 hour for the sauce to thicken, depending on how juicy were the tomatoes.

Cook the pasta until “al dente” in salted water or chicken broth. We used whole wheat penne that need longer to cook and we prepared our own chicken broth.

Strain them and add them to the basic tomato sauce with the halloumi cubes while the pan is on medium fire. Stir so that the penne are well coated with the sauce. Switch off the fire, stir in the fresh mint and serve. Add on top the grated parmesan and some leaves of fresh mint for decoration.

We use this sauce in different recipes by adding other things to it. When the sauce is to be served we take out the cinnamon stick, the orange peel and the cardamom pod.

I always taste the sauce and I adjust the seasoning.

Yiannos Anastassiou

Yiannos Anastassiou


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