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Friday, December 3, 2010

Pasta Sostanza

Adapted from recent meal eaten at Carrabba's Italian Grill.

Pasta Sostanza a la Chucky

I promised to attempt to make Carrabba's Pasta Sostanza and I did today.  And how did it turn out?  In my opinion which Tiffany shares, outstanding!

Everything was fresh and from scratch.  From the fresh pasta that we purchased at Eat More Produce to the fresh tomatoes also from Eat More Produce, everything was fresh except for the artichoke hearts.


  • 1 medium onion, peeled and finely diced
  • 1 Tbsp 100% raw virgin coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 28 ounce can whole tomatoes with juice, chopped (I used 32 ounce fresh vine ripened tomatoes)
  • 8 mushrooms, diced
  • 1 can artichoke hearts, drained
  • 10 large basil leaves, each torn into 3-4 pieces (Note:  Carrabba's uses spinach and not basil.)
  • 1 Tbsp capers (optional)
  • 10 pitted black olives, diced (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp Italian bread crumbs
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • Bragg's organic seasoning, to taste

Chopped fresh Campani tomatoes

  1. In a medium-sized saucepan, place the coconut oil and onion over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, for 8-10 minutes, or until onions are soft and translucent and just starting to caramelize.  Add garlic and cook 1 more minute.
  2. Add the chopped tomatoes, and chopped black olives and cook for 20 minutes, stirring frequently to keep the sauce from burning.  (Note:  Since I used fresh tomatoes, I reduced to simmer after 20 minutes and continued to simmer for several hours longer.)
  3. When the sauce is done, add the salt, pepper and Bragg's to taste.  Add the torn basil leaves and cover tightly.
  4. As pasta is cooking, add chopped mushrooms and chopped drained artichoke hearts.
  5. When done, drain pasta and add sufficient amount of sauce (1 cup per serving), mixing to sufficiently coat.
  6. Transfer to plate or pasta bowl.  Sprinkle capers (optional) and Italian bread crumbs prior to serving.

Tomatoes added to sauteed onion, garlic, black olives.

The recipe made about 2 quarts of sauce.  We transferred unused sauce into a container to be stored in refrigerator for several more meals.

Simmering sauce

Without our plates being side-by-side with the dish that Carrabba's had served, I cannot truly compare.  However, I feel quite confident that my recipe is quite close and primary differences being source of ingredients.  For example, I am certain that Carrabbas uses San Marzano tomatoes.  I used Campari tomatoes.  They use 1/4 cup olive oil, I use 1 tablespoon coconut oil.  I used Bragg's to season, they use other spices.
I'm quite pleased and maybe next time I will use San Marzano tomatoes if I cannot find fresh vine ripened tomatoes at Eat More Produce.

Nutrition per cup

Mmm... I can still taste the dinner and am already looking forward to my next Pasta Sostanza dinner!

Hi-dee hi-dee you can do it-ho my curious culinary friends! 

Print Recipe


  1. this recipe looks amazing and i'll be putting it on my menu for next week! i love the blogosphere!
    i just read and other talented cooks develop recipes for me! how can i lose?!

  2. Hi Jayedee. You can lose is amateurs like me goof it up. If you get anything out of the blog I'd prefer it being that you tell yourself, "Hey! I can make that recipe!" when you find yourself sitting the restaurant enjoying a meal.

  3. Had the Pasta Sostanza last night at Carrabba's--so delicious--so came looking for how-tos this afternoon. yours sounds close, but mine had fresh spinach that I feel added much to the flavor and color. Thanks for your post and I am definitely going to give 'er a go, with spinach, of course.

  4. Thanks for the comments Jean! Ha! You caught me. Surprisingly no-one else has pointed out my mistake. If you look at my November 28, 2010 post ( blog post "Hmm... I Can Make This", you'll see that I had it correct. But less than a week later when I made it, my mind slipped and I thought that it was basil.

    And, you're also correct that the spinach works better than the basil. Good catch.

    Can't wait to hear how your Pasta Sostanza turns out.

    Again ~ Thanks for the feedback.

  5. I am going to make this on Saturday for my MIL's birthday. Did you put the mushrooms and artichokes in with the boiling pasta water? I'm just trying to figure this out. I was thinking that it would be good to sauté them with the spinach and then put over the sauce. Do you have any suggestions?

  6. susinick, wish you'd gotten a response as that is my question as well. Copycat's recipe which is pretty much this recipe with a few exceptions, stated the same thing. I'm with you in that the mushrooms and artichokes flavor need to add to the sauce not get lost in the water...? Would like clarification, though...

  7. Hi Suzinick & Debi,

    I added them to the sauce just before the pasta was done so that I did not overcook either. I wasn't so worried about the mushrooms as I was the artichoke. I simply did not wish the artichoke to dissolve into the sauce.

    Sorry for the delay in my response. Bon apetit!