Penne with Roasted Tomatoes and Mozzarella

in Baby & Toddler Friendly, Pasta, Summer Tomatoes, Vegetarian

Penne with Roasted Tomatoes and Mozzarella

I frequently get requests for toddler- and kid-friendly food ideas and I struggle with how to respond. I know how other family and friends have struggled with picky eaters and I don’t want to meet that frustration with a smug, “my kid eats everything,” response. But the truth is, we lucked out.

Our toddler eats just about everything that we do. Her dinner plate is mostly just a smaller version of ours. I’ll remove her portion before adding spicy ingredients, or cook her burger and salmon a little longer, but she mostly eats like an 18-year old. Her 18-month old side is still partial to “fun foods” – things like cherry and grape tomatoes, blackberries and blueberries, smaller pasta shapes that she can wrangle with a fork by herself, and pinto beans.

She has a couple of quirks. She’ll lick the J off a PB&J and pull the turkey and cheese out of her sandwich and leave the bread behind. She similarly guts quesadillas, leaving a near perfect tortilla on the table. She wants her apple whole, peeled, and on the core. She likes to eat half her yogurt and use the other half as finger paint. And heaven help you if you ever find yourself between her and a stick of string cheese. Or as it’s known around here, “Theezth.”

This dish contains all of her favorite things – and ours! Wonderfully fresh, summery tomatoes, pasta, and mozzarella theezth. It takes a little longer than a standard pasta recipe but roasting the tomatoes to concentrate the flavors is so worth it. We make it meatless (it’s one of the very few meatless meals I get to serve) but it’s a perfect candidate to throw in diced or leftover chicken.

Penne with Roasted Tomatoes and Mozzarella

A light, fresh pasta dish with fresh mozzarella and flavorful roasted cherry tomatoes.


  • 1 1/2 pints cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 13.25 oz box of penne
  • 6 oz fresh mozzarella, cut into small cubes (or a container of mozzarella pearls, drained)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil


  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. Toss tomatoes and garlic with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
  3. Place in an oven safe pan and bake for ~45 minutes, until the skins have wrinkled and the tomatoes have burst.
  4. Cook pasta in salted water, according to package instructions.
  5. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water before draining the pasta.
  6. Return pasta to the pot and add a few splashes of pasta water.
  7. Add the mozzarella cubes and using a slotted spoon, transfer the tomatoes and garlic to the pasta.
  8. Lightly toss, top with chopped fresh basil, and serve.


Yields: 4 servings

Source: Confections of a Foodie Bride

Estimated time: 1 hour

21 comments… add one

  • That’s great that she eats mini versions of what you do. I wish I could say I wasn’t a picky eater as a child. I always had my sauces on the side. Syrup, pasta sauce, ketchup – you name it I hated when they put it on top before it was served to me. Somehow I was convinced it tasted better dipped. And things were also less soggy that way for the long haul (cause I used to be an extremely slow eater much to my older siblings’ dismay). I also hated cheese on burgers… not sure where that came from and am glad to be over that! And any green food was a no-no – the only vegetables I consumed were carrots, potato and corn.

  • Wow, this looks incredible! I would think even the pickiest of eaters would love this dish :)

  • This sounds amazing! I don’t have kids of my own yet, but I do nanny and I am faced with a SUPER picky 10-year-old. I wish I could say she would eat this, but sadly she hates tomatoes. I on the other hand LOVE them and will be putting this on next weeks menu plan (would be this weeks if I hadn’t already gone grocery shopping!)

  • yum! sounds fresh and light.

  • Delicious! I was just thinking about roasting up some of the sweet tomatoes but adding the fresh mozzarella is a good idea.

  • Love this (and your story about your daughter)! What a beautiful use of season, fresh, healthy ingredients.

  • A wonderful, colorful dish…..Lovely idea.

  • This looks fantastic! Zachary used to eat anything you put in front of him. Everything. And now? Not so much. He should room with L, though, because he would LOVE to eat her leftover tortillas and bread. :)

  • When I have a kid she is totally hanging out with yours from off…I need the non-picky eating to rub off. This dish would appeal to just about anyone…picky eaters, non picky eaters, EVERYONE. Love that you roasted the tomatoes…makes them that much better!

  • This looks like a deliciously fresh summer meal. Good for your baby girl for her precocious palate :)

  • You are so lucky that she eats pretty much everything! While I don’t have kids, whenever my niece comes over it’s always a battle to get her to eat. She only eats Peanut Butter and Jello. It’s ridiculous.

    P.S. This Penne looks fabulous!

  • I love this – it’s such a perfect combination of flavours!

  • Lately I’ve been loving the addition of roasted tomatoes to anything! They add so much good flavor. Great looking dinner!

  • Judah is a good eater, too, and also wants his apple on the core, unpeeled, with a bite taken out from me to get him started. :) He loves loves loves tomatoes so I think I’ll make this for us very soon!!

  • This is so tasty looking. Yum!

  • This looks so fresh and delicious! Really lovely photo.

  • I think it’s a good idea to serve the toddler the same thing that parents eat just minus all the spice. This penne looks so lovely and colorful and I love pasta any time :)

  • Love this penne. Always good to try any and all kinds of healthy foods out on our kids. We never know when they will love something!

  • I always love a great pasta dish. Thanks for the recipe!!

  • i love the simplicity of this dish and i know it probably tastes amazing. that’s the thing about simple Italian food… beautiful job!

  • Liz

    45 minutes to bake the tomato mixture was WAY too long. I was not paying attention until the timer went off, which is my fault, but the tomatoes are burnt and taste like chemicals. I will try this again and probably cook the tomatoes for 20 minutes.

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