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Italian Garden Rotini

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Italian Garden Rotini

Italian Garden Rotini

Jessica Braider
For all vegetable lovers, this recipe is for you. The sauce gets even better with age, so you can make it on the weekend and serve it during the week, or freeze it and defrost it for a busy night. Turn on some good music and enjoy a glass of Italian red wine (you can even splash half a glass into the simmering sauce) while you dice the vegetables.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Italian
Servings 8 servings


  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion diced
  • 3 cloves garlic minced, about 1 1/2 tsp.
  • 1 red bell pepper diced
  • 1 zucchini quartered lengthwise and chopped
  • 1 small to medium eggplant cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/4 - 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, sea salt, or other coarse salt to taste
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper or to taste
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh basil leaves chopped, or 1 1/2 tsp. dried
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh oregano or 1 1/2 tsp. dried
  • 28 oz. crushed tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp. brown sugar optional
  • 16 oz. tricolor rotini (spiral) noodles (use wheat/gluten-free, if needed)
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese for serving


  • In a large Dutch oven or stockpot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic, and cook them for about 3 minutes until the onions start to soften.
  • Add the bell peppers and zucchini, stirring gently with each addition.
  • Add the eggplant, stirring gently to keep the eggplant from settling to the bottom of the pot so it doesn’t scorch.
  • Add the salt, pepper, basil, oregano, tomatoes, and sugar (optional), and stir gently. Bring the sauce to a boil, cover the pot, reduce the heat to a simmer, and continue cooking it, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes, until the eggplant is very tender and dark.
  • Meanwhile, cook the noodles according to the package directions (unless you plan to refrigerate or freeze the sauce for later). When the noodles are cooked and drained, combine them with the sauce. Serve it hot, topped with the cheese, or refrigerate the sauce for 3 days, or freeze it for up to 3 months.

Slow Cooker Directions:

  • In a skillet, cook the onions and garlic in the oil as directed above. Add the contents of the skillet along with the remaining ingredients except the noodles and cheese to the slow cooker. Cook on low for 4 – 6 hours or on high for 2 - 3 hours (it can cook a little longer if you don’t mind a mushier sauce). Serve over the cooked noodles and topped with the cheese. (Slow cooker cooking times may vary—Get to know your slow cooker and, if necessary, adjust cooking times accordingly.)


Do Ahead or Delegate: Dice the onion, pepper, and eggplant, peel the garlic, quarter and chop the zucchini, prepare and refrigerate or freeze the sauce, cook the pasta and store it tossed with a little oil to prevent sticking, shred the cheese if necessary and refrigerate.
Scramble Flavor Booster: Serve the pasta with crushed red pepper flakes or with hot pepper sauce, such as Tabasco.
Tip: Tricolor pasta gets its green color from dehydrated spinach powder and its red color from dehydrated tomato or beet-root powder.  There is no difference in the nutritional values of regular pasta versus the tricolor variety, whereas whole wheat pasta is made with whole grains and has more fiber, and is therefore more nutritious.
Nutritional Information Per Serving (% based upon daily values): Calories 350, Total Fat: 10g, 15%; Saturated Fat: 2g, 10%; Cholesterol: 5mg, 2%; Sodium: 420mg, 18%; Total Carbohydrate: 57g, 19%; Dietary Fiber: 6g, 24%; Sugar: 10g; Protein: 12g
Like this recipe? Check out The Scramble's family-friendly meal plans to see just how simple getting dinner on the table can be!
Keyword Dairy-Free, Dinner, Freezer-Friendly, Gluten-Free, High Fiber, Kid-Friendly, Kosher, Low Fat, Low Sodium, Main Dish, Make-Ahead, No Added Sugar, Nut-Free, Slow Cooker, Summer, Vegan, Vegetarian
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