Dishing Up the Dirt

Penne with Za’atar Tomato Sauce & Parmesan

It’s officially spring and what do I cook? Comfort food. Yep, we made this meal a few nights ago after a somewhat hectic afternoon on the farm. The seeding schedule has taken over our lives and the days are getting busier by the minute. The good news is that the weather has been gorgeous. Sunny afternoons with chilly evenings that still warrant fires in the wood stove, comfy PJ’s, and in this case, giant plates of hearty pasta.

In all honesty, I didn’t intend to photograph or blog about this recipe. We came in from the greenhouse filthy and hungry. I whipped this pasta up in about 15 minutes without putting much thought into it.  However, after Taylor dipped a spoon into the sauce for a taste test he convinced me it was too good not to share. Naturally, I did what any flattered wife would do and filled his wine glass extra tall, gave him a kiss and grabbed my camera. I snapped away as quickly as possible so we we could proceed to stuff ourselves silly with carb overload.  Isn’t it incredible how the most simple recipes are usually the best? We both went back for seconds and had zero leftovers.

We tossed a few micro greens that I cut from the greenhouse as garnishes and sprinkled a generous amount of good quality parmesan cheese. After a couple of bites the craziness from the day totally disappeared and we were two very happy farmers. It’s amazing what a little wine, good food, and excellent company can do for the soul. I hope wherever this post finds you that you are able to enjoy a simple and nourishing meal with someone you love (even if that someone is your cat or dog!)

As always use the measurements in this recipe as a guide and taste test as you go. If you avoid dairy swap the parmesan cheese with my almond parm instead. Grab a fork, pour some wine and enjoy.

Cheers from a beautiful sunset at Tumbleweed Farm.

Penne with Za'atar Tomato Sauce & Parmesan

Prep Time: 10 minutes    Cook Time: 10 minutes    Serves: 4

Za'atar Tomato Sauce
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 Tablespoons za'atar spice blend
  • 1-2 Tablespoons harissa spice blend  (start with 1 Tablespoon and add more as you taste test)
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 (8 oz) package of pasta
  • freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • micro greens
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Place the tomatoes, garlic, za'atar, harrisa and olive oil in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and use an immersion blender or food processor to puree the sauce. Taste test and adjust seasonings if need be.
  2. While the sauce cooks bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. Depending on the type of pasta you use this could take anywhere from 6-12 minutes. Drain the pasta (reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid).
  3. Return the pasta to the pan and drizzle with sauce. If it's too thick add a little bit of the reserved cooking liquid.
  4. Divide among plates and top with parmesan cheese, micro greens, salt & pepper to taste.


*Use this recipe as a guide. *Adjust measurements and ingredients as necessary. *Taste test as you go. *Have fun in the kitchen.

Leave a Reply

4 thoughts on “Penne with Za’atar Tomato Sauce & Parmesan

  1. There is such a lovely vibe to this post — this pasta looks so perfectly styled I’d never guess it was snapped on the go — here’s to spring!

  2. I’ll have to share this with my husband! I got him really into za’atar, so he puts it on all kinds of things, especially pizza. I bet he’d love this tomato sauce.

    Have a great weekend, Andrea!

  3. I don’t make pasta that often but when I do.. it has to be something special, just like this za’atar penne. I am so saving this recipe to make!

  4. Rob says:

    I made this and substituted spirilized carrots for the pasta and it was fantastic!

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