Cooking With Confidence
simple cherry tomato pasta
Economical, Healthy, Main Dishes, Pasta, Vegetarian

Simple Cherry Tomato Pasta

by Nick

Sometimes the only thing I want for dinner is a really good plate of pasta. Maybe it’s the 1/4 Italian running through my veins but if I don’t get a big plate of pasta once a week, I get pretty cranky.

I usually don’t do anything too fancy with the pasta, but one thing that I haven’t done in a very long time is use a jarred sauce. To me, they are always a bit sugary and gloopy and not even that flavorful. So I usually skip the jars and make my own sauce with canned tomatoes.

But hey. It’s summertime so I try to use fresh tomatoes these days. Of course the traditional way to make sauce is to buy large tomatoes, peel them, cook them down for hours, and flavor them with all kinds of spices.

I like that method just fine, but I don’t always have time for that business. This is the way to cheat at tomato sauce by using cherry tomatoes!

Yield
Serves 4.
Prep Time
Total Time

Just a moment please...

Print Recipe Cherry Tomato Pasta

Ingredients

  • 1 pound pasta (I like whole wheat spaghetti.)
  • 2 pints (1 quart) ripe cherry tomatoes
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 or 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 Cup fresh basil, chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • Optional spice add-ins: Red pepper flakes, dried marjoram, dried oregano, all to taste.

Directions

1) Get a large pot of boiling salted water going for the pasta.

2) Mince the garlic and chop the onion and basil.

3) In a large, wide pan add the olive oil over medium high heat along with the onions and garlic.  Cook for a minute or two.

4) Wash all the cherry tomatoes and add them to the hot pan (no need to peel or core them).

5) Cook for 10-15 minutes until tomatoes start to break down.  Use a fork or a spatula to mush the tomatoes down even further.

6) Add a pinch of salt and pepper along with any other spices you might want and let the tomato sauce continue to simmer until thick, about 15-20 more minutes.  Stir occasionally.

7) Start cooking pasta when sauce is pretty thick.

8) Add white wine and use the extra liquid to scrape up any bits of sauce stuck to the pan.  Add basil as well and stir to combine.  Turn heat down to low.  If sauce gets too thick at this point, add a bit of pasta water to the sauce.

9) When pasta is done, pull it out with tongs and add it to the sauce immediately.  Don't drain the pasta.

10) Stir pasta in with sauce and serve immediately with parmesan cheese.

Starting the sauce

Even though it’s made from scratch, this is really a lazy man’s pasta sauce.

basics

Pretty simple recipe!

Dice up the onion and garlic and then heat up the biggest wide pan you have. I like one with high sides. I’ve made this dish in a huge variety of pans including a dutch oven. Whatever you have will probably work, but wider surface area the better because that ensures that the tomatoes aren’t piled on top of each other.

Add your oil to the pan and get it hot over medium high heat. Then add the onions and garlic and get them cooking for a few minutes.

Then, and here’s the easy part, wash all your cherry tomatoes and throw them in. Don’t worry about peeling them or coring them or any of that labor intensive stuff. Just toss them in.

tomatoes cooking

Doesn’t get much easier.

They’ll sizzle and pop and smell good. Eventually they’ll start to kind of wilt and give up. This is when you can get aggressive and take a fork or spatula and start mushing them to bits. This part is more fun than it is work in my opinion.

NOTE: For those of you concerned about the skins or seeds or tiny cores in the tomatoes, it’s really nothing to be worried about. You can barely even see them in the final product and the skins give a little texture to the dish which I find kind of nice actually. If you’re going to peel and core the tomatoes though, by all means, use larger tomatoes.

Anyway, this is after about 10 minutes of cooking:

cooking down

The transformation begins!

Turn the heat down to medium, add any extra spices you like (I like red pepper flakes) and let this simmer and reduce until it forms a pretty solid paste. Now would be a good time to hit it with some salt and pepper also.

This is after about 25 minutes of simmering probably. You’ll want to stir this every once in awhile, but it’s far from high maintenance.

Even more cooking

Almost a paste.

Once you get it all reduced down, I would start cooking my pasta (your salted water should be boiling already dude).

As your pasta cooks, you want to add some flavor BACK into the tomatoes. So add your white wine and use the liquid to scrape up any little bits that are in the pan. Also add the huge amount of chopped basil!

stuff added

Plus some basil and white wine!

Stir this all together and turn the heat down to low on the sauce. The white wine should evaporate pretty quickly.

Hopefully, your pasta is ready now. If it’s not and your sauce is getting dry then you might want to add a 1/4 Cup of pasta water (just scoop it out) to the sauce. This will thin it a bit but also add some starch to the sauce which will actually help out it’s ending texture/flavor.

When Your Pasta is Done

Just use some tongs to yank the pasta from the water and add it directly to the sauce. Pasta water should be dripping from the pasta. It’s all good.

Once you get all your pasta in the pot give it a good stir and you’re ready to go!

pasta added

All mixed up!

I serve this with a good bit of grated parmesan cheese, some fresh cracked black pepper, and a side salad.

Very delicious.

pasta again

Lots of parm obviously.

So, if you’ve been timing this recipe you might notice that the pasta sauce itself does need to simmer for probably 35-45 minutes. So I’m not sure that I’d categorize this as a completely “quick” recipe, but the good news is that it requires very little chopping and very little monitoring.

The ending sauce is light yet really flavorful and has a great texture.

If you have a pasta fetish like me, this is a great summer option.

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47 comments on “Simple Cherry Tomato Pasta

  1. Perfect for the end of summer, when the tomatoes and basil are running high. Thank God you don’t advocate for peeling and seeding the tomatoes–who wants to fuss with that?

  2. Can we talk whole wheat pasta? I swear I can’t find a WW pasta that tastes good. They all taste weird/grassy? What brand should I try?

    I bought some Quinoa pasta and haven’t tried it yet.

  3. Another reason to make your own sauce: there’s usually a huge amount of salt (as well as sugar, as you said) in jarred pasta sauce. Anyway, this recipe looks really good

  4. Finally I know what to do with all the cherry tomatoes growing on my porch. I just won’t know how it will look since I have yellow, orange, purple, red and green cherry tomatoes. Hopefully not too bad. They look awesome in bruschetta though.

  5. saw this a fwe days ago and couldnt resist! i just made it. it was fantastic. i used a fresh pasta (bought at my local amazing gourmet store) as well as cherry tomatoes grown in my mom’s back yard :-D. it was absolutely delicious. I also liked the texture provided by skin and seeds.

    I would recommend against the red pepper flakes though. I added a pinch and wished I hadnt!

    Overall…I would make it again…and again…and again!

    1. I personally loved the red pepper flakes, and only had sweet white wine instead of dry…so it was sweet and a tad hot…lovely! So probably up to personal taste.

  6. I just made this! It turned out great. I'm so happy I had an opportunity to use my almost too-ripe cherry tomatoes.

  7. Wow, I have been making a similar dish for years!!! Mine is a bit different though, Nick, but I think you would like it. I saute just garlic in olive oil. Add my tomatoes. At about the same point I put up my pasta. When the pasta is just about aldente I add zucchini and yellow squash to the water. I top the pasta and

  8. zucchini with the tomato, grated peccarino romano and fresh snipped basil. Comes out excellent!

  9. Made this tonight, it was delish! I added some chicken right before the white wine- turned out quite nice!
    Anne- try Barilla Plus whole wheat pasta- its the only one I can stand!

  10. Thank you for this great recipe. It was delicious and we enjoyed it throughly. It was layered with flavor and we loved the red pepper flakes in it. Gave it a little something extra.

  11. nice job on this! I was looking for a recipe to use some of the many cherry tomatoes that my plants have been giving me this summer and this so fit the bill. Thanks for a great dinner recipe!

  12. Just finished making this. The pictures were really helpful and your directions were great. Really good recipe, will totally make again. Thanks for sharing. :)

  13. Very good! Thank you so much for the recipe! I had SO many cherry tomatoes, and I was sick of making salsa. My brother and bf also enjoyed :)

  14. I added thin strips of pancetta when I added the tomatoes. Added a whole new depth to the dish.

  15. I just made this and it was SOOOO good, so easy, so fresh, so fast and just generally awesome. Thanks for the inspiration! I threw in some frozen veggies and lots of spices… I had no idea you could just throw in cherry tomatoes like that and let them POP! Saves a lot of time with slicing!

    1. Hey Hollie, pretty much any white wine should work. Grab any pinot grigio on the shelf and you should be just fine. :)

    1. The sauce would freeze okay… not sure about the dish as a whole… I generally don’t recommend freezing spaghetti.

  16. Great recipe, the only thing I would change is to add the herbs and dried spices at the beginning of the recipe with your oil. This “blooms” the herbs, releasing their flavor compounds into the oil quickly, and you’ll get more flavor out of fewer dried herbs.

  17. How much is 1 quart in grams? Google told me roughly 1kg, but in your pics I can only see two smallish looking packs! I still have hundreds of cherry tomatoes left in my garden and think I might try your dish this weekend. Usually I halve the cherry toms and roast them in the oven, but it’s such a faff.

    1. Hey Bex, I’m not sure actually what the conversion is as it would be specific to tomatoes. I would guess about 1/2 KG actually.

      BUT, the recipe is super flexible. There would be nothing wrong with doubling that amount. I would say just use how much you want but probably cap it at 1KG.

      Good luck!

  18. Just wanted to say I tried this tonight and it was delicious with whole grain pasta. Will be my go to sauce for a while.

  19. I just found your blog yesterday! and tonight I put my abundance of garden tomatoes to good use! yummy, this recipe was divine. We are a dry household so I substituted the wine with good chicken broth with a dash of balsamic vinegar! It worked perfect. My two young kids ate two huge helpings….and I won’t divulge my helping size;) thank you!

  20. LOVE IT! I’m not sure if it’s the recipe or if I’m that damn good. Didn’t have basil but substituted with a butt load of italian seasoning. I also used red wine because that’s all I had. Smells and tastes AMAZING!

  21. Thanks for posting! Was excited to find this recipe as we have more cherry tomatoes (the sweet yellow-orange variety) than we know what to do with… I must have had the heat too high, as when mine broke open and I smashed them, I was quickly left with almost no liquid. Followed through with the whole recipe and added some pasta water, but the end result had a bitter/burnt taste to it. I knew I’d done something wrong, since they just didn’t look like the pics.

    I noticed at least one poster said they’d used yellow ones and they were good, so maybe I’ll try again. I’d also used red vs. white onion, since it was all I had – you think that would account for it, or just too much heat?

  22. Thanks so much for this can’t wait to try it I have soooooo many cherry tomatoes right now. is there something that I can use in place of the white wine? I am pregnant and even tho alcohol cooks off I would rather not risk it.

    1. Hey Heidi, you could use any sort of stock (veg stock) and maybe a dash of white wine vinegar for some acid. Should be good!

  23. Thanks for this recipe! Bought a container of cherry (cherub) tomatoes last week from Costco…which means of course that it was a LARGE container…I had the realization that I had no idea what I was going to do with these but this recipe not only saved me from cherry tomato ruin but I may just buy the giant container again just to make this recipe! I did add sliced baby portabella mushrooms when I added the white wine. I like to do a few vegetarian recipes during the week and this one was a hit with the fam. thanks again.

  24. Had heaps of home grown cherry tomatoes and basil that needed using, thought about pasta sauce and found this super easy recipe – I also used some home grown chillies instead of red pepper flakes and some extra wine but followed the recipe as shown. Used linguine pasta and really loved the meal. Thanks for posting the recipe!!!!!!

  25. I made this last night because I too had lots of cherry tomatoes and basil from the garden and wanted a new recipe. It was so amazing!!! Thanks for posting!! I too added sliced chicken breast right before I added the wine because we were having my niece and her boyfriend over for dinner after a long bike ride and I knew people would be really hungry. :) I did add a little red pepper and everyone was glad that I did. It was yummy!!! I will be passing this recipe on to everyone I know! I can’t wait to make it again….the four of us gobbled it up last night and there was not any left overs! :)

  26. I have an ungodly amount of cherry tomatoes this year, it’s like my one little plant mutated and took over the entire garden. Needless to say I googled cherry tomatoe pasta and this was the first thing that came up. I made it with penne pasta and it was really good. I also loved the excuse to buy a bottle of wine, and of course I had to drink the left over wine, wouldn’t want that to go to waste or anything! Excellent recipe, I will be using this one a lot for the rest of the tomato season!! :)

  27. Thanks for the recipe!! I made it last night and am so happy to have something easy and delicious to do with an over-abundance of cherry tomatoes from my CSA :) Did not have fresh basil or wine on hand, but it still turned out great without them. Used about half yellow tomatoes that seemed to give it an almost creamy sweetness.

  28. I added olives and fresh lemon juice to this and it just made everything even better. I love this simple and delicious recipe!!!!!!

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