French Memories: My Go-to Pasta Recipe

French Memories: My Go-to Pasta Recipe

For any who are new to this blog (and moi), you should know that I’m a Francophile with a capital F. It can be tracked down to (blamed on) numerous sources, including my mother and her French chanson CDs, my high school French classes (merci, M. Drovin, Mme DuBois + Mme Westerman!) and, perhaps most of all, my months/years à Paris. Also the amazing French Department folks at Stanford.

Studying abroad in the City of Light was probably the best idea of my undergraduate career. If not the best (because Stanford graced me with a ridiculous number of amazing opportunities), it was still one of the best, and I definitely chose the right time to go – right after freshman year.

I lucked out on everything, basically, and got housed with a wonderful host family who welcomed me so warmly into their home. I loved madame’s cooking and always looked forward to dinner. She made simple, yet delightful, meals – I was hooked!

Before I left Paris (at least, that time around), I made sure to ask for her recipes. She told me she got most of them online and that they were super easy.

Of course, over the years I’ve forgotten where I put the sheet of paper (it’s still somewhere), and I’ve never been very good at following recettes to the T, anyway. So, the following recipe has been adjusted in various ways, but it’s one that I go back to time and time again. You can adapt it in so many ways, and it’s quick to make.

Tomato, Onion + Herb Pasta (Pâtes aux Tomates, Oignons, Lardons et Fines Herbes)

Ingredients (for 2-3 people): 

  • 2-3 larger tomatoes, or 3-4 medium tomatoes – diced
  • 1/2 onion – chopped semi-finely
  • 1 shallot (or half of a fat one) – chopped finely
  • 1 clove garlic – finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup water or chicken stock/broth
  • 1 -2 oz pancetta (approx 30 grams) or lardons if you’ve got em!
  • 1 tsp red chili flakes
  • Salt, Cracked black pepper, Soy Sauce to taste (oui, I use soy sauce for everything)
  • Herbes de Provence OR a mix of herbs (dry or fresh, I use fresh thyme, rosemary and dried oregano)
  • Handful Chives and/or Basil (optional) – chopped
  • Cheese (either to incorporate in sauce, or to sprinkle as you wish)
  • Pasta (choose whatever kind, and make it as the sauce finishes cooking)


  • On medium heat, put pancetta in a pan and wait for it to release oils. If you’ve got a ridiculous amount of oil, mop some up with a paper towel. Otherwise, throw in your garlic until aromatic. Then, toss in your chopped onions and shallots. Sprinkle chili flakes, Sauté for a while.
  • After your onions and shallots are smelling delicious, and browning a tad, add in your diced tomatoes. Salt and pepper.
  • Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble. Add your water or stock/broth so that liquid remains in your sauce! Add herbs and let simmer on low for a few minutes, until tomatoes are soft and losing their shape definition. Put aside.
  • Cook your pasta, and once it’s al dente, add to your pan of fresh pasta sauce!
  • Bon appétit! 🙂


And while I enjoy my version of this sauce, I will always remember the original that I encountered chez madame et monsieur.

Paris me manque trop. La ville, les gens, les patisseries, les restaurants … enfin tout. Alors, à bientôt j’espère! 😉 Peut-être que si j’envoie des messages à l’univers… quelqu’un va m’envoyer des billets d’avion? Non? J’espère que oui 🙂

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