Pasta Napoletana

Cheryl Malik
December 21, 2022
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This super easy pasta napoletana recipe is meatless and absolutely delicious! Using very simple ingredients, and ready in barely 30 minutes, this budget-friendly pasta dish is a perfect whole-family meal.

Overhead view of pasta napoletana in a large pasta bowl with smaller bowls of sauce, basil, and parmesan surrounding.

🍝 What Makes This Recipe So Good

  • Pasta napoletana couldn’t be easier to make! You most likely already have most of the ingredients in your pantry, and it’s ready to eat in 30 minutes. After cooking the pasta, onion, garlic and crushed tomatoes all come together in one skillet to make a delicious fresh marinara sauce. The dish is seasoned to perfection and finished with fragrant fresh basil and grated parmesan.
  • It’s completely meatless! Whether you follow a vegetarian diet, or enjoy a meal without meat here and there, this is a perfect recipe. It’s super satisfying, and you can also make it vegan super easily with just one swap.
  • Who doesn’t love a delicious spaghetti dinner? Sometimes simple dishes are simply the best! Perfect for any weeknight meal or to share at a dinner party, pasta napoletana will be hit for the whole family, kids included. You could complete the meal with buttery and crunchy garlic bread too.
  • It’s such a great dish to meal-prep! Make a big batch ahead of time to have on hand during the week for a quick lunch or dinner. You can store any leftovers in an airtight container refrigerated for up to 4 days. Making just the sauce, and freezing it for future use is also great.

👩🏼‍🍳 Chef’s Tips

  • Make sure to reserve a bit of the pasta cooking water. Adding a few splashes to the marinara sauce will give it a creamy and rich texture. Save about a half a cup, and add it a little at a time, until you find the perfect consistency you enjoy. You might or might not need to use the whole half cup in the end.
  • If you want to take your pasta napoletana to the next level, I recommend getting a block of real Italian parmesan, parmigiano reggiano, and grate it yourself. It tastes incredible, it’s lactose-free and melts beautifully. You can get a block and keep it in your fridge for months!
  • While we use spaghetti for this recipe, you can use any pasta shape you’d like. They’ll all work and taste great.
Close-up view of pasta napoletana twirled onto the tines of a silver fork.

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Overhead view of pasta napoletana in a large pasta bowl with smaller bowls of sauce, basil, and parmesan surrounding.

Pasta Napoletana

Pasta napoletana is a simple meatless spaghetti meal made with onion, garlic and crushed tomatoes and then sprinkled with fresh basil and parmesan.
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Yield: 6 servings


  • large pot
  • colander
  • Large skillet


  • 12 ounces dry spaghetti - or pasta of choice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • half of one medium yellow onion - chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic - minced
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 ½ teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon salt - more or less to taste
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper - more or less to taste
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan


  • Bring large pot of water to boil. Add large pinch of salt, then pasta. Cook to al dente, according to package directions. Just before draining, scoop out about ½ cup of cooking water and set aside. Drain rest of water and set pasta aside. 
    Overhead view of ingredients for pasta napoletana in bowls and a colander.
  • While pasta cooks, warm olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chopped onion, and cook for 2-3 minutes, just until softened. Add garlic and cook 30-60 seconds more or until fragrant.
    Overhead view of chopped onion, olive oil, and minced garlic in a large skillet.
  • Stir in can of crushed tomatoes, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. Bring the mixture to simmer, then reduce heat to low and cook for 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened.
    Crushed tomatoes added to chopped onion and minced garlic in a large skillet.
  • Add drained pasta to sauce. Toss well to combine. If you prefer looser sauce, add a bit of pasta cooking water 1 splash at a time until it reaches your desired consistency.
    Cooked spaghetti pasta added to red sauce in a large silver skillet.
  • Top with chopped basil and grated parmesan, and serve right away.
    Overhead view of prepared pasta napoletana in a large silver skillet.


  • Make it Dairy Free: Skip the parmesan or replace it with a plant based alternative.


Serving: 1serving | Calories: 303kcal | Carbohydrates: 55g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 4mg | Sodium: 446mg | Potassium: 559mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 365IU | Vitamin C: 14mg | Calcium: 108mg | Iron: 3mg

Nutrition Disclaimer

Number of total servings shown is approximate. Actual number of servings will depend on your preferred portion sizes. Nutritional values shown are general guidelines and reflect information for 1 serving using the ingredients listed, not including any optional ingredients. Actual macros may vary slightly depending on specific brands and types of ingredients used. To determine the weight of one serving, prepare the recipe as instructed. Weigh the finished recipe, then divide the weight of the finished recipe (not including the weight of the container the food is in) by the desired number of servings. Result will be the weight of one serving.

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Recipe by Cheryl Malik

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