Fresh Tomato Pasta
Bright and summery fresh tomato pasta is the perfect weeknight meal! It’s made with juicy ripe tomatoes tossed with aromatic basil, garlic, red pepper flakes, salty capers and sharp parmesan.
Why you’ll love it: This fresh tomato pasta with basil has all the flavors of al fresco dining packed into a quick and easy pasta recipe.
How long it takes: 30 minutes to marinate your tomatoes, plus a bit of prepping and boiling the pasta.
Equipment you’ll need: One bowl and a pot for cooking the pasta.
Easy Fresh Tomato Pasta with Basil
Are you looking for the perfect warm-weather pasta recipe? Because I’ve found it. Everyone associates pasta recipes like spaghetti and meatballs with cozy, colder seasons. But this fresh tomato pasta is made for summer meals!
Of course, that’s not to say it won’t be just as delicious any other time of the year. Every bite tastes like an al fresco lunch in the Mediterranean – and who wouldn’t want that mental holiday in the dead of winter?
Aromatic basil and ripe, in-season tomatoes bring loads of summertime flavor to this simple, comforting pasta dish. The bright flavors are amped up with fresh garlic and salty capers, while red pepper flakes give the sauce a bit of a bite. It’s a simple recipe with loads of zest and kick.
Why You’ll Love This Pasta Recipe
Here’s why you’ll be making this fresh tomato pasta recipe all summer, and all year round:
- Fresh ingredients. Ripe tomatoes, fresh herbs, shallots, and freshly grated parmesan bring all sorts of vibrant flavors to this easy pasta dish.
- Easy to make. Once the tomatoes are prepped and marinated, the finished pasta comes together quickly and easily. Simply boil your pasta and toss everything together! This makes this recipe perfect for weeknights, too.
- Versatile. There are loads of ways that you can switch up the ingredients in this tomato pasta to suit your needs and tastes. Check out some suggestions later on in the post!
I love making this fresh tomato pasta when tomatoes are in season. Ripe, juicy tomatoes are a must! Below I’ve outlined the ingredients you’ll need. Remember to refer to the full recipe details in the recipe card below the post.
- Tomatoes: Any variety you’d like, or any combination of fresh, ripe tomatoes. You can use Roma tomatoes, regular garden tomatoes, heirloom tomatoes, or make cherry tomato pasta.
- Shallot and Garlic: Our lovely aromatics. Make sure to mince both the shallot (or small onion) and garlic cloves nice and fine. A garlic press works great for cloves. Try to avoid using the kind of garlic you find in a jar. Since the ingredients in this recipe are simple and fresh, it’s important to use high quality ingredients to achieve the best results.
- Olive Oil: Olive oil has a starring role in this pasta recipe, so make sure to use good-quality extra virgin olive oil for the best possible flavor.
- Capers: I love the pops of bright, floral brininess that capers bring to this tomato pasta. Alternatively, use olives. If you don’t like either, feel free to skip them altogether.
- Salt and Red Pepper Flakes: To season the tomatoes. You can adapt the amount of crushed red pepper to taste.
- Parmesan: Nothing beats freshly grated parmesan.
- Pasta: Your choice of pasta noodles. We use campanelle, but you can make this recipe with any pasta variety you prefer (fusilli, penne, bow-tie, linguini, spaghetti, etc).
- Basil: Fresh basil compliments the sweet tanginess of the tomatoes beautifully.
How to Make Fresh Tomato Pasta
Depending on the size of your tomatoes, you may need to core and deseed them first. If you’re using large tomatoes, prepare them before we start on the pasta:
- Core and chop the tomatoes. Using a sharp knife, cut your tomatoes in half and cut out the lighter, tough centers. Next, give the tomatoes a gentle squeeze to remove the excess seeds. After, dice the tomatoes into smaller pieces, which should leave you with about 3 cups.
- Marinate. With your diced tomatoes in a large bowl, stir in your minced garlic and shallot, along with capers, salt, and chili flakes. Drizzle over a few generous glugs of olive oil, and sprinkle in grated parmesan. Toss everything together, and let the tomatoes stand on the counter, covered, for 30 minutes.
- Boil the pasta. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Remember to salt your pasta water! Cook your favorite pasta according to the directions on the package. I always aim for al dente, but you can cook the noodles to your liking. Before you drain the pasta, scoop out a half-cup of the pasta water to keep aside for the sauce.
- Combine. Toss the cooked and drained pasta in a bowl with the marinated tomatoes. Now you’ll add the reserved pasta water, a little at a time, to reach a silky, saucy consistency. Right before you serve, grate over additional parmesan, and dig in.
Tips for Success
This recipe is ideal for any skill level in the kitchen. Here are my tips for making the best pasta:
- Salt your pasta water. There’s an Italian saying that insists that the water used to cook pasta must be “salty like the Mediterranean sea”, and it’s true. Well-salted pasta water is the key to seasoned, flavorful pasta noodles.
- Reserve some of the pasta water. Don’t forget to save a half-cup or so of the pasta water before you toss the rest out. Pasta water is filled with excess starches and flavor and helps to create a luxurious, creamy sauce without the need for cream. It’s honestly a game-changing cooking hack for all types of pasta sauces, and not just this recipe!
Make This Pasta Your Own
The beauty of this fresh tomato pasta is in how simple it is. Of course, that also leaves lots of room to change things up to suit your tastes. Try these easy variation ideas:
- Less spicy. Red pepper flakes give this recipe a spicy kick, but if you’re making this pasta for kids or if you prefer something milder, feel free to scale the chilies back or leave them out.
- Add protein. This vegetarian pasta recipe is delicious as is, but you can easily bulk it up with your favorite protein. Stir in cooked shredded chicken or crispy pancetta (or bacon). Or, make a zesty seafood pasta with lemon pepper shrimp.
- Add balsamic. Balsamic vinegar compliments the fresh flavors in this recipe, so go ahead and add some in while the tomatoes are marinating. It’s also wonderful with a drizzle of balsamic reduction.
- Different herbs. Fresh thyme, oregano, or rosemary would be delicious.
- More veggies. Stir in sautéed spinach, leafy kale, cooked zucchini, or broccoli.
- Add more sauce. If you prefer a saucier dish, serve this fresh tomato pasta topped with homemade arrabbiata sauce.
What to Serve With Tomato Pasta
There are so many ways to turn this light and flavor-filled fresh tomato pasta into an easy lunch or dinner. You can’t go wrong with pasta and a side of tomato bruschetta. We’ll sometimes serve it bistro-style with crusty ciabatta and bread dipping oil, and a green salad tossed with creamy Italian dressing.
For a heartier meal, serve this tomato basil pasta topped with grilled balsamic chicken, paired with a glass of your favorite white wine or a classic Negroni cocktail.
Storing and Reheating Leftovers
This tomato pasta tastes great even a day or two after it’s made. It’s also delicious to enjoy leftovers cold, as a pasta salad! Here’s how to store it:
- Fridge. Store any leftover pasta airtight in the fridge for up to 3 days. Since the pasta tends to get a little dry, stir in a bit of water when you’re reheating it on the stove or in the microwave to help loosen it up again. Alternatively, you could enjoy it cold as a pasta salad. Try it with a sprinkle of balsamic vinegar and olive oil to bring it back to life a little.
- Freezer. I don’t usually recommend freezing pasta recipes like this one, as the noodles often become mushy when thawed. If you absolutely must freeze it, store the pasta in an airtight container and keep it frozen for up to 1 month. Thaw the pasta in the fridge before reheating. Keep in mind, it won’t be the same as it is fresh.
Did you make this? Be sure to leave a review below and tag me @rachelcooksblog on Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest!
- 1 ½ lbs. assorted very ripe tomatoes
- 1 shallot, finely minced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced, pressed, or grated
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil (use a good quality olive oil)
- 2 tablespoons capers, drained
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes (more/less to taste)
- ½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese, divided
- 8 oz. pasta (we used campanelle)
- 1 cup fresh basil, sliced or torn
- If the tomatoes are large, core them (remove the tough center and stem) and squeeze out the excess seeds. Discard the seeds and core. Chop the tomatoes into bite-size pieces, about ¾ inch. You should have about 3 cups.
- Stir in minced shallot, garlic, olive oil, capers, salt, and red pepper flakes. Stir in ¼ cup cheese.
- Cover the bowl and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes to an hour.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook according to package directions. Reserve ½ cup of pasta water; drain pasta.
- Add pasta and basil to tomato mixture and combine, adding reserved pasta water, 2 tablespoons at a time, as needed to make a sauce. Serve garnished with remaining Parmesan.
- Substitute chopped olives for the capers if desired.
- Adapted from Good Housekeeping magazine.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the USDA Food Composition Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.
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