Summer Tomato Pasta

This summer tomato pasta, made with fresh tomatoes, spaghetti or bucatini, and plenty of grated Parmesan, is easy, elegant summer cooking that comes together in just half an hour.

A black skillet filled with summer tomato pasta, sprinkled with fresh Parmesan cheese.

The simplicity of this summer tomato pasta earns it a spot on your weeknight rotation all summer long. It’s made with an easy yet seemingly elegant tomato and basil sauce that cooks in the same amount of time it takes you to cook your pasta.–Angie Zoobkoff

Summer Tomato Pasta

  • Quick Glance
  • (1)
  • 20 M
  • 30 M
  • Serves 4
5/5 - 1 reviews
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Fill a large pot with water, toss in some salt, and bring to a boil.

Tester tip: If you like serving your pasta in warmed bowls, preheat your oven to its lowest temperature while the water is coming to a boil. Slip the bowls in the oven, turn it off, and forget about them until you’re ready to serve.

In a large skillet over medium heat, warm the olive oil.

Once the oil is hot, add the red pepper flakes, garlic, and a pinch of black pepper and wait until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Toss in the tomatoes and basil and season with salt. Reduce the heat to medium-low and gently simmer so the tomatoes release their juices.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to package directions until al dente.

Drain the pasta in a colander, reserving at least 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water.

Stir the pasta into the tomato sauce and toss to combine. Add enough of the pasta cooking water to achieve the desired consistency, starting with 1/2 cup. Cook until the pasta is done, 3 to 5 minutes more.

Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning, if needed. Divide the pasta among 4 bowls or plates and top with Parmesan. Drizzle with the extra-virgin olive oil and serve.

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Recipe Testers' Reviews

This recipe produced a solid, flavorful bowl of pasta that could only be improved by using in-season ultra-juicy tomatoes.

The heirloom tomatoes I was able to find at Trader Joe’s came in different colors that were somewhat different sizes but mostly around the size of cherry tomatoes. I halved them for this recipe. They did not give off all that much juice. I could only imagine how delectable this would be with tomatoes from one of my favorite farmers market vendors in a few months.

The 1/2 cup felt like too much oil. It was like I was making tomato confit, though it never got to that consistency. The finished sauce was heavy on olive oil. Since I used a good extra virgin olive oil, that was perfectly fine, but this didn’t have the consistency of a tomato sauce as the tomatoes didn’t really break down enough for that.

The volume of pasta dwarfed the amounts of the other ingredients. This might have been better with 12 ounces of pasta than a full pound. Due to the amount of oil, the pasta was thoroughly coated, though.

Italian simplicity at its finest. Which of course means that the ingredients you use need to be of the highest quality. Everything from the olive oil, ripeness of the tomatoes, quality of the cheese—it all makes a big difference here. I can absolutely see how someone could make this pasta recipe at least once a week during tomato season!

I used 4 medium “ugly ripe” heirloom tomatoes. I used bucatini here, not only because I had some in the pantry, but because it’s one of my favorites. The perfect shape of pasta here because it traps in the yummy tomato sauce and juices. I can also see fresh fettuccine being lovely here.

The smell of the garlic and pepper flakes infusing the hot oil is just marvelous; I quartered my tomatoes and cooked them along with the basil for a total of 10 minutes. This was just long enough for them to soften and break up a bit when stirred with a wooden spoon. My pasta cooked in 11 minutes to get to al dente. The finished consistency of the sauce was just liquidy enough, thanks to the starchy pasta water addition, but the tomatoes weren't completely mushy, they still held their shape a bit.

I had grated Pecorino Romano, so I used that instead of Parmesan.

The only things I would maybe suggest for this recipe is to maybe melt an anchovy fillet right into the hot oil for a touch of that umami-flavor; and also, maybe to add 1/4 cup of dry white wine into the sauce for a touch of acidity. Other than that, I think this is simply a lovely warm weather pasta that would also work well with heirloom cherry tomatoes!

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