Our creamy tomato pasta is easy to make in about 15 minutes. It uses simple ingredients like fresh tomatoes, ricotta, parmesan, basil, and olive oil.

You’ll love the comforting Italian flavors, the sauce’s creamy texture, and the ricotta and tomatoes’ lightness.

This creamy tomato pasta is excellent for the whole family’s weeknight lunch or dinner.

creamy tomato pasta in a bowl with a silver fork

Dietary Note: this recipe is suitable for a vegetarian diet. For vegans, use vegan ricotta and vegan parmesan. For gluten-free, use gluten-free pasta.

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What is a creamy tomato pasta?

red creamy tomato pesto in a white bowl with fresh basil

Our creamy tomato pasta recipe combines Italian pasta cooked al-dente with an effortless and creamy ricotta-tomato sauce, also known as Sicilian pesto.

Using ricotta instead of heavy cream makes this recipe creamier, lighter, and tastier, and there’s no need to cook the sauce!

Italians, especially Sicilians, often use ricotta with pasta as a sauce or for stuffing. Have a bite, and you’ll learn why. It tastes divine.

red tomato pesto in a blue bowl with a silver spoon

The creamy tomato pasta sauce is similar to basil pesto. It comes together in 5 minutes in a food processor, and you can make it while the pasta cooks.

The grated parmesan adds a rich, savory flavor, and the fresh basil adds a mild, sweet, and vibrant taste, making this creamy tomato pasta unmistakeably Italian.

For vegans: substitute our vegan ricotta and vegan parmesan for their dairy counterparts.

Similar recipes: roasted red pepper pasta, casarecce pasta, paccheri pasta, kale pasta.

Ingredients and substitutions for creamy tomato pasta

Ingredients for creamy tomato pasta

Quantities are in the recipe box at the bottom of the page.

Pasta

In Sicily, this pasta is often made with casarecce, a short pasta type slightly twisted and rolled lengthways.

Substitute any other pasta shape for casarecce.

For example, we love the creamy tomato sauce with trofie, orecchiette, cavatelli, farfalle, rotini, fusilli, paccheri, and penne pasta.

Creamy tomato pasta sauce

  • Tomatoes: we recommend ripe vine tomatoes or Roma tomatoes.
  • Ricotta cheese: you can use part-skim, low-fat, whole-milk ricotta, or vegan ricotta.
  • Parmesan cheese: you can use grated parmesan cheese or vegan parmesan. If you like splurging, go for Italian Parmigiano Reggiano or Grana Padano.
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Fresh basil leaves
  • Nuts: you can use pine nuts, almonds, walnuts, or macadamia nuts. We used pine nuts.
  • Garlic: we recommend a fresh garlic clove, but garlic powder works too.
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add a pinch of red pepper flakes to make it spicy.
red tomato pesto in a Mediterranean bowl with basil

How to make creamy red tomato pasta

US cups + grams measurements in the recipe box at the bottom of the page.

1. Cook the pasta

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.

When the water boils, add the salt and the dried pasta. Cook the pasta according to the package directions or until it is al dente—cooked but with a chewy bite.

Reserve 1 cup of the cooking water, drain the pasta, and add it to a large mixing bowl with the creamy tomato sauce.

Cavatelli pasta after cooking in a white sift

2. Make the creamy tomato sauce

While the pasta cooks, make the creamy pasta sauce.

Cut the tomatoes in half and discard their seeds and juice. This is important; otherwise, the sauce will be too watery.

Add the tomatoes to a food processor or blender with basil leaves, pine nuts, grated parmesan cheese (or vegan parmesan), ricotta cheese (or vegan ricotta), a small garlic clove, extra virgin olive oil, salt, and black pepper.

basil, cheese, pine nuts and tomatoes in a food processor

Pulse a few times or until creamy. You might need to scrape down the sides of the food processor once or twice.

Taste and adjust for salt before mixing the sauce with the pasta.

blended red tomato pesto

3. Mix the sauce with the pasta

Pour the creamy tomato sauce into a large mixing bowl.

Add the cooked pasta and toss until well combined.

If the sauce is too thick, add a few tablespoons of reserved pasta cooking water until you reach your desired consistency.

cavatelli mixed with creamy tomato pesto in a glass bowl

Portion the pasta on a plate and garnish with fresh basil leaves and a drizzle of oil. Serve immediately.

red tomato pesto in a white bowl

Serving suggestions

This creamy tomato pasta can be a main course with a salad or veggie on the side. We recommend it with:

Variations

  • Make it gluten-free: the creamy tomato sauce is gluten-free. Substitute your favorite gluten-free pasta brand for wheat pasta.
  • Make it nut-free: if you are allergic to nuts, you can easily make the sauce without them.

Tip

Avoid heating the sauce on a pan: Fresh basil doesn’t like direct heat. It’s best to toss the sauce at room temperature with the hot pasta rather than heating it in a pan.

Reserve some pasta cooking water: when mixing the pasta with the creamy tomato sauce, you might need to add some pasta cooking water to bring all the ingredients together, add creaminess, and reach your desired sauce consistency.

Storage & Make Ahead

Make ahead: Make the creamy tomato sauce up to 4 days in advance and keep it ready in the fridge for a last-minute meal.

Refrigerator: Keep the sauce in an airtight container for four days. If you have leftover pasta, keep it in the fridge for 24 hours.

Freezer: You can freeze the sauce in an airtight container, like a small jar, for up to 3 months. Avoid freezing leftover pasta.

Reheat: Warm leftovers in the microwave, or eat at room temperature.

red tomato pesto in a Mediterranean bowl with basil

More creamy pasta recipes

More pasta sauce recipes

creamy tomato pasta with fresh basil and a fork

Creamy Tomato Pasta

By: Nico Pallotta
5 from 2 votes
Our creamy tomato pasta is easy to make in about 15 minutes. It uses simple ingredients like fresh tomatoes, ricotta, parmesan, basil, and olive oil.
You’ll love the comforting Italian flavors, the sauce’s creamy texture, and the ricotta and tomatoes’ lightness.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 4 people
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian

Equipment

  • Food processor or blender

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces casarecce pasta or another pasta shape / cooked in 3 quarts/12 cups/3 Liters water and 1½ tablespoons/21 grams sea salt.
  • 12 ounces vine tomatoes
  • ½ cup ricotta cheese or non-dairy ricotta
  • ¾ cup grated parmesan cheese or non-dairy parmesan
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • cup fresh basil leaves
  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts substitute almonds
  • ½ teaspoon salt or more to taste
  • teaspoon black pepper substitute red pepper flakes

Instructions 

  • COOK PASTA: In a large pot, bring the water to a boil, add the salt, and 12 ounces casarecce pasta. Cook per package instructions, stirring occasionally.
    Reserve 1 cup cooking water, drain the pasta, and add it to a large mixing bowl.
  • MAKE SAUCE: cut 12 ounces vine tomatoes in half and discard seeds and juice.
    Add tomatoes, ½ cup ricotta cheese, ¾ cup grated parmesan cheese, ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, ⅔ cup fresh basil leaves, 3 tablespoons pine nuts, ½ teaspoon salt, and ⅛ teaspoon black pepper to a food processor.
    basil, cheese, pine nuts and tomatoes in a food processor
  • Pulse until creamy. Stop and scrape down the sides of the food processor once or twice.
    Taste and adjust for salt.
    blended red tomato pesto
  • SERVE WITH PASTA: Mix the sauce with the pasta in a large mixing bowl.
    If the sauce is too thick, add a few tablespoons of reserved pasta cooking water until you reach your desired consistency.
    cavatelli mixed with creamy tomato pesto in a glass bowl
  • Portion the pasta on a plate and garnish with fresh basil leaves and a drizzle of oil. Serve immediately.
    Creamy red tomato pasta in a white bowl

Notes

Nutrition information is an estimate for 1 serving of creamy tomato pasta out of 4 servings.
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Nutrition

Serving: 1portion out of 4, Calories: 621kcal, Carbohydrates: 71g, Protein: 21g, Fat: 29g, Saturated Fat: 7g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g, Monounsaturated Fat: 14g, Trans Fat: 0g, Cholesterol: 29mg, Sodium: 589mg, Potassium: 512mg, Dietary Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 5g, Vitamin A: 1242IU, Vitamin B6: 0.2mg, Vitamin C: 13mg, Vitamin E: 3mg, Vitamin K: 41µg, Calcium: 234mg, Folate: 39µg, Iron: 2mg, Manganese: 2mg, Magnesium: 85mg, Zinc: 3mg
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Nico and Louise in the kitchen

Hi! We are Nico & Louise

Welcome to The Plant-Based School, a food blog with easy, tasty, and wholesome recipes.

Our aim is to help you and your family eat more veggies through delicious recipes with simple ingredients.

Easy right?

5 from 2 votes

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Recipe Rating




3 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I made this and it was delicious. I didn’t have ricotta in the house so I used Greek Yoghurt. For the pasta I used penne rigate. Both were good substitutions.

    1. Fantastic, Joanne. Thank you very much for your helpful suggestions, and for taking the time to leave a comment here.

      Kindest, Louise