Spaghetti Pomodoro

I was a young foodie padawan when I started my first job in the restaurant industry. California Pizza Kitchen was my Yoda. For three years, I waited on tables, silently learning and developing my palate. This was my favorite dish, and it was my destiny to conquer it.

If I had super cool html coding powers, I would have made that first paragraph into a scrolling perspective. How awesome would that have been? But since I have the html proficiency of a rock, let’s just move on to a topic that I’m more familiar with.

When I flashback at the mental slideshow of wee little Dhale, was I always a foodie? Maybe. I tried making spaghetti for the first time after I saw an episode of Punky Brewster and she threw noodles at the ceiling to see if they were cooked. But barring this juvenile culinary attempt, I’ve always been an onlooker.

It wasn’t until I began moonlighting at CPK when the foodie inside me was unleashed. I learned about the bitterness of radicchio, the creaminess of goat cheese and how on Earth to pronounce “andouille”. Schlepping tables for three years at a restaurant that cultivated a diverse palate truly opened the doors to my culinary world. And for this I thank you, CPK, for hundreds of tasty meals that I consumed under my employment. Half of which were my all-time favorite: Tomato Basil Spaghettini.


1 lb. spaghetti noodles
1 28 ounce can of stewed tomatoes, peeled
5 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbsp capers, drained
1/2 cup goat cheese, crumbled
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp red chili pepper flakes
1/2 cup fresh basil, julienne
olive oil
salt & pepper to taste
  1. Fill a large pot with heavily salted water and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, in a large skillet saute garlic and olive oil over low heat for approximately 5-7 minutes. Be careful – do not burn the garlic! Add chili flakes and saute for another 2 minutes. Add entire contents of the canned tomatoes and bring to a simmer.
  2. Once the sauce is simmering, add sugar. Season with salt & pepper. Allow to simmer for another 15 minutes over low heat. When the large pot of water begins to boil, add pasta and cook al dente. About 7-10 minutes. Drain pasta and toss with olive oil.
  3. Combine pasta with the tomato sauce in the skillet. Add capers and basil. Transfer onto individual bowls and top with goat cheese. Makes 4 servings.

27 Responses to “Spaghetti Pomodoro”

  • Sook @ My Fabulous Recipes Says:

    Oh this dish sounds amazing! I have never been to California Pizza Kitchen but we have it just right down the street. I will have to go there sometime and try this pasta. Or I can just make it at home now that I have the recipe. :) Thanks.

  • grace Says:

    a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…
    now you have me thinking–who is my yoda? hmm. this is an awesome post combining a delicious recipe and magnificent pictures (the forked twirl is incredible).

  • Dhale Says:

    @Sook: You HAVE to try CPK! I’m usually not a big supporter of chain restaurants but their food is actually really delicious. I’ve tried every single item on the menu and I’ve never been disappointed. Hopefully you’ll enjoy it as much as I do!

  • Dhale Says:

    @Grace: Lol! Every foodie has a Yoda… whether it be Julia Child, a parent or some previous job. Prior to CPK, all I knew were burgers, hot dogs and pizza. Then again, I was just right out of high school 😉

    Thanks for the wonderful compliments! The twirled fork is something I’ve seen in a magazine before and I’ve been dying to try it. It’s tough to get this shot with all the noodles flopping around while I hold the fork in one hand and shoot with the other. I need more practice and next time I’ll use a less reflective utensil 😉

  • Joy Says:

    MMMmmmm I love capers this is the bomb shiz — you know what I get at CPK their peking duck pizza. Am i gross? Anyways LOVE the composition, I can almost smell the basil and tomato sauce from Texas!

  • Mimi Says:

    I have to agree with grace, the fork shot is awesome. This looks fantastic, what other CPK recipes do you have?

  • Malou@IMPROMPTU Says:

    you are an artist… two thumbs-up on the writing, the food and the photos…
    haven’t you noticed i drop by everyday haha!

  • Dhale Says:

    @Joy: Yes, Joy. It’s a little gross. Lol 😉 I’ve tried the peking duck pizza but it’s not my favorite. I prefer my peking duck from the real deal Asian places! Thanks and those must be some strong wind currents to drift all the way to Texas!!!

  • Dhale Says:

    @Mimi: Thanks! Fork shot still needs to be fine tuned so next time I post another pasta recipe, look out for attempt #2! I’ve only come close to this dish so far. I tried making their spinach artichoke dip (best EVER!) when I was still working there but it doesn’t even come close to what they serve. I’ve also tried the Kung Pao Spaghetti and it’s getting closer. The recipes they published in their cookbook doesn’t exactly reveal their top secret ingredients. It’s up to all of us foodies to decipher :)

  • Dhale Says:

    @Malou: Many, many, MANY thanks for your kind words! And thanks to you, I feel like a food porn star 😉

  • Christine @ Fresh Local and Best Says:

    This looks like a very good and refreshing pasta! Thanks for sharing the recipe, so we can make this at home too!

  • TeenieCakes Says:

    Dhale: Your write-up and images make me absolutely hungry! All beautiful photos…especially like the fork with pasta & other delicious ingredients wrapped around it.

    Happy Friday to you!

  • PIERRE Says:

    hi dhale
    beautiful photo and yes italian food is the best ..after the French !!!! Cheers from Paris pierre

  • Barbara Bakes Says:

    Love the one perfect bite on the fork. I think instead of a scrolling first paragraph you should work at being able to taste each other’s posts. How fun would that be!

  • Erika from The Pastry Chef At Home Says:

    That photo of the forkful of pasta is gorgeous!

    You know I don’t think i’ve ever had goat cheese in pasta before…and i’m married to an Italian so I eat a lot of pasta! I’m curious to try this….particularly because I LOVE capers.

    ps: I have the html proficiency of algae…

  • Simply Life Says:

    What a great pasta dish!

  • Richelle Says:

    I love CPK!!!! However, I have never tried this dish. Your recipes sound so simple I can’t wait to make it myself!! BTW – I am a BIG fan now! I always look forward to new postings. =) Thanks Dhale!!

  • Dhale Says:

    @Christine: My pleasure! It’s such a simple recipe yet I had myself convinced (back in the days) that I could never recreate it at home. Enjoy!

  • Dhale Says:

    @TeenieCakes: Thank you so much!!! As an aspiring food photographer/stylist, it’s a tremendous feat to know that my photos make you hungry :)

    Hope you had a lovely weekend!

  • Dhale Says:

    @Pierre: Lol! That is such a French thing to say!!! But yes, I agree. It’s part of the “terms & agreement” in my relationship :)

    And I feel the need to do a public service announcement to my fellow bloggers that you, Pierre, is in fact not MY boyfriend Pierre but another French man named Pierre. Who, by the way, has an amazing blog directly from Paris! A lot of people have assumed that your comments were coming from my bf so I definitely wanted to make sure that everyone knew about your site too :)

  • Dhale Says:

    @Barbara: Thank you!!! I think an invention like that would be lethal to my weight gain because there are tons of delicious looking meals from all our fellow bloggers! Let’s start off with something like smell-a-vision? It’s less calories 😉

  • Dhale Says:

    @Erika: I’m overwhelmed by all the positive feedback with the forkful of pasta! Thank you very much :)

    The goat cheese adds a wonderful creaminess to the pasta and it’s a must-have in this dish! So delicious! I love capers too! When I used to work at CPK, I’d always ask the chef to make mine with EXTRA capers.

    P.S. Lol! Let’s start a club!

  • Dhale Says:

    @Simply Life: CPK has loads of great pasta dishes but this one is definitely my favorite!

  • Dhale Says:

    @Richelle: CPK rocks! You’ll have to order this dish from there to benchmark the one you’ll make at home. And I’m so happy that you found my blog and very honored to have you as a fan! I feel like such a food porn superstar! Lol 😉

    Can’t wait for you to come out with a blog of your own!

  • david Says:

    WOW true definition of Food Porn,beautiful pictures, journalistic writing topped off with wam bam easy recipe. Thanks for sharing and glad to have met you.

  • Dhale Says:

    @David: Thank you! Cam ung (is that how you spell it?!)! Pleasure to meet you as well and looking forward to seeing more Asian food porn :)

  • Bea Says:

    OMG! Thank you so much!! I have been to CPK with my son who also once worked there, and always expressed his love for the dishes there. He finally took me there to have lunch and I happened upon this dish. From the moment it hit my tongue I was in love with this dish! I am currently on a 3 week fasting, but the moment I am done I am making this my first dish! Thank you again so much for providing this recipe.

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