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Quick, easy, and absolutely amazing, this Pasta with Cherry Tomatoes is one of my favorite easy weeknight meals and a great way to use up a lot of tomatoes! Fresh, plump cherry tomatoes make the most amazing pasta sauce in combination with earthy garlic, bright red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Topped with fresh basil and parmesan, it’s a simple pasta dinner recipe that will quickly become a family favorite!
Once you try this, you’ll see why this has been my go-to pasta dish most of the summer. It has a fresh, light, and vegan sauce that comes out silky smooth with a nice balance of sweetness and tanginess from the tomatoes. After you’re done cooking the cherry tomatoes and tossing with the pasta, you can keep it vegan or add some shaved parmesan cheese when serving.
why you’ll love this cherry tomato basil pasta
- Bright. The flavors in this dish are so vibrant and fresh, making it perfect for hot summer days.
- Light. Unlike a lot of pasta dishes that can be heavy, this one is on the lighter side. The sauce is made from just tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, and basil. So, it’s perfect if you’re looking for a healthy pasta recipe.
- Crowd pleaser. Kids and adults alike will love this pasta with cherry tomatoes. Serve it with some garlic bread and a simple salad for a complete meal.
- Versatile. You can add, subtract, or change up the ingredients to suit your taste. Don’t like basil? Swap it for oregano or thyme. Want a little more heat? Add some more crushed red pepper flakes. The options are endless!
Ingredients to make pasta with cherry tomatoes
- Cherry tomatoes: You’ll need about two pints of cherry tomatoes for this recipe. If you can’t find cherry tomatoes, you could use grape tomatoes or even regular diced tomatoes.
- Garlic: I always say the more garlic, the better, but start with at least three cloves and go from there.
- Red pepper flakes: These are totally optional, but I like a little bit of heat in my pasta. Start with ½ teaspoon and add more to taste.
- Olive oil: You’ll need some really good olive oil. I like to use organic extra virgin olive oil because the flavor really comes through in this dish. The sauce will really only be made up of the olive oil, minced garlic, and the juices that will come from the ripe sweet tomatoes literally bursting in the pan.
- Basil: You really want to use fresh basil here. It’s so much better than dried basil when the recipe calls for minimal ingredients, and really makes a difference in the flavor of the dish.
- Parmesan cheese: This is also optional, but I love the salty, sharp flavor that parmesan cheese adds to this pasta. If you’re keeping it vegan, you could use Nutritional Yeast.
- Salt: You’ll need to add some salt to help bring out the dish’s flavors.
- Pasta: You can really use any type of pasta you like. I’ve made it with spaghetti, angel hair, and even shells. It’s really up to you!
How to make pasta with cherry tomatoes
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the cherry tomatoes and cook until softened.
- Add the garlic, salt, and crushed red pepper and cook until fragrant.
- Use the back of a spoon to carefully mash the tomatoes to release their juices.
- Continue cooking until the tomatoes continue to burst and create a sauce.
- Transfer the cooked pasta on top of the tomato sauce along with the basil and parmesan cheese.
- Toss to combine.
Tips for making pasta with cherry tomatoes, garlic & basil
- Save the pasta water. Even though the bursting cherry tomatoes and olive oil create a decadent sauce for the pasta recipe, the pasta cooking water is what helps that sauce cling to the noodles.
- Use a potato masher to burst the tomatoes. Once the tomatoes are heated enough and bubbling, they will likely just start to burst on their own. And you can smash them with a wooden spoon. I find it faster and easier, though, to just use a potato masher.
- Don’t overcook the pasta. Pasta should be cooked al dente, which means it should be cooked through but still have a bit of a bite to it. The pasta will also absorb some of the cherry tomato sauce as it cools.
- Handle the basil with care. Basil is a delicate herb, and if you chop it too roughly, it will turn black. I like to stack the basil leaves, roll them up into a tube, and then thinly slice them. This method is called chiffonade and results in nice long strips of basil that won’t turn black when cooked. For more tips on cutting basil, click the underlined text.
popular substitutions & additions
- Switch out the tomatoes. This recipe lends itself well to substitutions. If you can’t find cherry tomatoes, feel free to use grape tomatoes or even regular diced tomatoes. If using whole tomatoes, I recommend peeling your tomatoes first.
- Add some protein. If you want to add some protein to this dish, chicken would be a great option. You could also add some white beans or chickpeas for a vegetarian option.
- Experiment with the cheese. I love the sharp flavor of parmesan cheese in this recipe but feel free to experiment with different types of cheese. You could try mozzarella, goat cheese, or even a vegan cheese like Nutritional Yeast. If you like feta, you can add it here as well. It will be similar in flavor to my baked feta pasta.
- Make it spicier. If you want a little more heat in your pasta, add in some additional crushed red pepper flakes or even some diced chile peppers in adobo sauce for some smokey heat.
what to serve with your cherry tomato pasta
how to store & reheat cherry tomato pasta
This pasta dish is best served fresh but can be stored in the fridge. To reheat, simply add a splash of water and heat in the microwave until warmed through. You could also reheat it on the stove over low heat.
how long will pasta with tomatoes last in the fridge?
This cherry tomato sauce will last in the fridge for about three days. After that, the tomatoes will start to lose their color and flavor. The pasta can be stored separately from the sauce and will last in the fridge for four to five days.
Frequently asked questions
Cherry tomatoes are typically sweeter and have fewer seeds than grape tomatoes. They also have a thinner skin which makes them easier to burst. Grape tomatoes are a good substitute if you can’t find cherry tomatoes.
You can use any type of pasta you like for this recipe. I like long noodle shapes like spaghetti, angel hair, and fettuccine, but any are fine here.
This dish is best served fresh, but you can make it ahead of time. Simply cook the pasta and sauce separately and then store them in the fridge. When you’re ready to eat, simply reheat and enjoy!
This pasta dish is perfect for a quick and easy weeknight meal. The sauce is made with fresh cherry tomatoes and basil and can be easily tailored to your taste. You can add in some protein like grilled chicken or shrimp, and the best part is that it reheats well, so you can enjoy leftovers all week long! I hope you enjoy this recipe. Let me know if you have any questions in the comments below.
More vegan pasta recipes:
- Creamy Vegan Cashew Tomato Pasta
- Hummus Pasta
- Lemon Pasta
- Penne with Roasted Tomatoes
- Cauliflower Alfredo
- Creamy Avocado Pasta Salad
- Pumpkin Pasta
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This Pasta with Cherry Tomatoes recipe was originally published on September 30, 2018. The recipe has been modified slightly and the post now includes new step-by-step photos for how to make the pasta recipe.
Pasta with Cherry Tomatoes
- Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Cook pasta until al dente according to package directions. Reserve ½ cup pasta water and drain.
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the cherry tomatoes and cook until softened, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, salt and crushed red pepper and cook until fragrant, 1 more minute. Use the back of a spoon or a potato masher to carefully mash the tomatoes to release their juices. Continue cooking until the tomatoes continue to burst and create a sauce, 5 more minutes.
- Transfer the drained pasta on top of the tomato sauce along with the basil and parmesan cheese and toss to combine. Add as much of the reserved pasta water as needed to reach the desired consistency.
- Serve immediately with more fresh basil and parmesan cheese, if desired.
Nutrition information provided is an estimate. It will vary based on cooking method and specific ingredients used.