Creamy Tomato Rigatoni


A judicious amount of heavy cream enriches this simple tomato sauce, producing a lush texture that clings to the pasta without blanketing richness. Crushing the canned tomatoes by hand creates a rustic mixture of tomato pulp, pieces, and puree. This recipe is inspired by sommelier Derrick C. Westbrook of 1340 Beer Wine Spirits in Chicago, who named it his ideal dish for pairing with wine. “My first restaurant job was at an Italian restaurant; I’d ask the pasta cook to mix red sauce with a splash of cream, a riff on vodka sauce," he says. "I still love creamy tomato sauce on short pasta, paired with juicy, fresh red wines like Zweigelt or unoaked Cabernet Franc that offer just a touch of funk and medium acidity.”

Total Time:
45 mins


  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter

  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion

  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled plum tomatoes, tomatoes crushed by hand and juices reserved

  • 12 ounces uncooked rigatoni pasta

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

  • 1/2 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated

  • Chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, for garnish


  1. Melt butter in a large Dutch oven over medium. Add onion; cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and their juices; bring to a boil over medium. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer, stirring occasionally, until flavors meld and sauce thickens, about 30 minutes.

  2. Meanwhile, cook pasta in salted water according to package directions for al dente. Drain pasta, reserving 1/2 cup pasta cooking liquid.

  3. Stir cream, salt, black pepper, and crushed red pepper into tomato sauce. Add cooked pasta, and toss to coat. Add reserved pasta cooking liquid, 1/4 cup at a time, until desired consistency is reached.

  4. Divide pasta evenly among 4 bowls; sprinkle with Parmesan, and garnish with parsley.

    Creamy Tomato Rigatoni
    Photo by Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Torie Cox / Prop Styling by Claire Spollen

Make Ahead

Tomato sauce can be made up to 3 days ahead and stored in an airtight container in refrigerator.

Suggested Pairing

Unoaked Cabernet Franc.

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