This creamy cherry tomato pasta is coated in a delicious sauce made with naturally sweet and juicy tomatoes cooked with olive oil, garlic, and basil.
The recipe cannot be simpler, and the sauce is ready in the time it takes to cook the pasta. This a favorite tasty meal for a quick lunch or weeknight dinner.
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Cherry tomato pasta is a traditional Italian recipe from Naples.
Its original name is "pasta allo scarpariello" because it was popular among the shoemakers ("scarpari" means shoemakers in Neapolitan) that lived in the Spanish quarters of the city.
The recipe showcases the creativity and simplicity of Italian food. The ingredients cannot be simpler: pasta, cherry tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, basil, and parmesan cheese.
When combined, they create the perfect pasta dish: a chewy "al dente" bite, a fresh and creamy sauce, a savory tang, an ideal balance of sweet and acidic from the tomatoes, and the pleasant aromas of garlic and fresh basil.
We are sure you will love this dish for its simplicity, ease of making, and irresistible flavors of Mediterranean cuisine.
Ingredients & Substitutions
Find the complete recipe with ingredients and instructions in the recipe box at the bottom of the page.
We like to make cherry tomato pasta with spaghetti - here, we used squared spaghetti, which is slightly bigger than regular spaghetti, and have an incredible bite.
Other pasta shapes that work well are linguine, bucatini, bavette, paccheri, and rigatoni.
What's most important here is that you use Italian pasta made with 100% durum wheat flour and cook it al dente, with a bite.
If you can find "bronze-cut" pasta, it's even better because its rugged surface makes it easier for the sauce to stick.
For gluten-free, substitute gluten-free pasta for durum wheat pasta.
We recommend cherry tomatoes or plum tomatoes.
We combined small cherry tomatoes with golden or yellow plum tomatoes to add extra sweetness.
Substitute canned or bottled cherry tomatoes for fresh ones.
We recommend extra virgin olive oil to make the sauce.
Fresh garlic is a must here.
Salt and Pepper
We recommend sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Red pepper flakes
Optional to add a touch of heat to the dish.
Fresh basil is lovely with the cherry tomato pasta sauce, and we recommend not substituting other fresh herbs.
Grated parmesan cheese adds a savory taste and a creamy texture.
Substitute pecorino romano or ricotta salata for parmesan.
For vegans, you can use a vegan parmesan alternative or another vegan cheese suitable for pasta.
How to make cherry tomato pasta
Start by boiling a large pot of water and cutting the cherry tomatoes in half.
When the water is boiling, season it with salt and add the pasta.
Boil the pasta as per package instructions minus 3 minutes.
In a large skillet, heat the extra virgin olive oil. Add the halved cherry tomatoes and season them with salt, black pepper, pressed or grated garlic, and red pepper flakes.
Cook on medium-high heat for about 10 minutes or until the pasta is ready. Stir occasionally.
Note: the medium-high heat allows the tomatoes to burst and release their juices in a short cooking time.
Reserve 1 cup of pasta water, drain the pasta and add it to the sauce.
Add about ½ cup of the reserved pasta water and fresh basil leaves, and finish cooking the pasta in the sauce on medium heat while stirring for a couple of minutes.
The pasta should be al dente, with a bite. Add more pasta water if necessary.
Turn the heat off, add the grated parmesan cheese, and stir until the cheese melts and makes the sauce creamy.
Serve the pasta immediately in a bowl, topping it with the cherry tomato sauce, fresh basil leaves, and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
Pasta pomodoro is a similar recipe to cherry tomato pasta, but it uses whole canned peeled tomatoes instead of fresh cherry tomatoes.
The recipe is as easy and delicious, and it's a beautiful alternative if you don't have cherry tomatoes.
Check out our pasta pomodoro recipe.
With a side salad or sautéed veggies, such as:
- Sautéed eggplant (basil, eggplant, tomato, garlic, olive oil, etc.)
- Chickpea salad (cherry tomatoes, chickpeas, black olives, corn, cucumber, etc.)
- Easy house salad (carrot, cherry tomatoes, lettuce, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, etc.)
- Sautèed zucchini (red onion, zucchini, olive oil, salt, pepper, etc.)
- Avocado salad (cherry tomato, parsley, avocado, red onion, bell pepper, etc.)
Salt the pasta water.
Underseasoning pasta water is the most common mistake people make when cooking pasta.
You'll need a large pot of salted water as follows:
- 8 ounces of pasta (230 grams): cook pasta in 2 quarts of boiling water (8 cups or 2 Liters) with 1 tablespoon of salt (15 grams). Serves 2 - 3 people.
- 12 ounces of pasta (340 grams): cook pasta in 3 quarts of boiling water (12 cups or 3 Liters) with 1 ½ tablespoons of salt (21 grams). Serves 4 people.
- 1 pound of pasta (450 grams): cook pasta in 1 gallon of boiling water (16 cups or 4 Liters) with 2 tablespoons of salt (30 grams). Serves 5-6 people.
Undercook the pasta
Cook the pasta for 2 to 3 minutes less than instructed on the package so that you can finish cooking it in the pan with the sauce. This will make for a creamier dish with a chewy bite.
Turn the heat off, then add cheese.
Adding the cheese with the heat off allows it to melt slowly and become creamy without the risk of separating.
Make ahead: this is not a good recipe to make ahead as the pasta will overcook and the sauce will dry. Make it and eat it.
Refrigerator: keep leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 24 hours.
Reheat: warm it on a pan with a drizzle of olive oil or in the microwave for 60 - 90 seconds.
Freezer: pasta with cherry tomatoes is not suitable for freezing.
More easy pasta recipes
Get more easy pasta inspiration with these quick red pasta dishes:
- Pasta Pomodoro (cherry tomatoes, canned tomatoes, spaghetti, basil, etc.)
- Spaghetti Puttanesca (olives, capers, parsley, canned tomatoes, pasta, etc.)
- Penne arrabbiata (red pepper flakes, canned tomatoes, penne pasta, etc.)
- Roasted red pepper pasta (roasted bell pepper, almonds, canned tomato, etc.)
More cherry tomato recipes
Love cooking with cherry tomatoes? Find more tasty recipes ideas here:
- Mushroom pasta (portobello mushrooms, fettuccine, garlic, parsley, etc.)
- Tomato confit
- Basil tomato salad
For many more pasta ideas, check out our pasta category page.
Cherry Tomato Pasta
- 12 ounces spaghetti + 3 quarts of water (12 cups or 3 Liters) and 1 ½ tablespoons of salt (21 grams)
- 1½ pounds cherry tomatoes halved
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 clove garlic pressed or grated
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 twists black pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon red pepper flakes or more to taste
- 15 fresh basil leaves + more for garnishing
- ½ cup parmesan cheese or non-dairy cheese, grated. Add more or less to taste.
- Start by boiling a large pot of water and cutting 1½ pounds cherry tomatoes in half.When the water is boiling, add the salt and 12 ounces spaghetti.Boil pasta as per package instructions minus 3 minutes.
- In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil. Add the halved cherry tomatoes and season them with 1 teaspoon salt, 2 twists black pepper, 1 clove garlic(grated), and ⅛ teaspoon red pepper flakes.
- Cook on medium-high heat for about 10 minutes or until the pasta is ready. Stir occasionally.
- Reserve 1 cup of pasta water, drain the pasta and add it to the sauce.Add about ½ cup of pasta water and 15 fresh basil leaves, and finish cooking the pasta in the sauce on medium heat while stirring for a couple of minutes.The pasta should be al dente, with a bite. Add more pasta water if necessary.
- Turn the heat off, add about ½ cup parmesan cheese, and stir until the cheese melts.
- Serve immediately in a bowl, topping it with the cherry tomato sauce, fresh basil leaves, and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.