The simplicity of this summer tomato pasta with basil 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

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

Summer Tomato Pasta

5 / 2 votes
This summer tomato pasta with basil is made with a handful of pantry staples, including fresh tomatoes, spaghetti or bucatini, and plenty of grated Parmesan. A fast, easy, no-fuss summer meal that's on the table in just 30 minutes.
David Leite
Servings4 servings
Calories704 kcal
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Total Time30 minutes


  • Water
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • Generous pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 cups (about 1 lb) assorted small heirloom or cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
  • Handful of torn basil leaves (about 1/2 cup loosely packed)
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 pound spaghetti or bucatini
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for serving


  • 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.
For The Love of the South Cookbook

Adapted From

For the Love of the South

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Serving: 1 portionCalories: 704 kcalCarbohydrates: 95 gProtein: 17 gFat: 29 gSaturated Fat: 4 gMonounsaturated Fat: 20 gSodium: 34 mgFiber: 5 gSugar: 9 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2018 Amber Wilson. Photo © 2018 Amber Wilson. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

This summer tomato pasta 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 summer tomato 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!

This tomato pasta with basil gives you the true summer taste of heirloom tomatoes! The preparation is simple and can be made in a matter of 30 minutes for a weeknight meal.

The tomatoes held their shape somewhat since I cut them in half. It did take more pasta water than 1/2 cup to make a “saucy consistency” for the pasta.

Warming the pasta bowls was an extra step, but kept the pasta and sauce warm for a longer time–even though it didn’t take long to eat it!

What a nice way to enjoy the flavor of summer!

I used a mix of colors and types of cherry tomatoes. I can usually find nice cherry tomatoes and fresh basil in the grocery store so this will become a year-round dish for me. Together they combined to make a flavourful dressing for the pasta. I used capellini (it’s what I had in the cupboard) but I think any thin pasta would work.

This is the time to pull out your best olive oil and aged Parmesan – simple ingredients combined to make a simply lovely dinner.

I can totally see adding other ingredients, maybe asparagus or baby peas and diced ham or shrimp, to make it a “primavera” main dish.

Amazing. Fresh. Easy. This recipe will be in my cooking rotation now and with the availability of mini grape-size heirloom tomatoes at the grocery store my family can enjoy this dish beyond just the summertime!

My only recommendation would be to reduce the extra-virgin olive oil down to 1/3 cup rather than the 1/2 cup so that it is not too oily.

This pasta is a delicious and quick use up an overabundance of tomatoes and basil. Splurge and use a variety of colored tomatoes and you’ve got a simple and fresh show stopper!

The sauce coated the pasta nicely after cooking the pasta in it. The olive oil provided a nice smooth and rich coating which was nicely contrasted by the acidity of the tomatoes.

This recipe was very delicious. The flavors of the tomatoes and basil infused the pasta with a great flavor. However, there were a few minor tweaks that could be made.

I ended up allowing the sauce to simmer for about 20 minutes. After adding the reserved pasta water to the tomatoes, I let it simmer for an additional 5 minutes. I then added the pasta and let that simmer in the sauce for about 4 minutes.

The sauce had an oily-in-a-good-way consistency which was adequate to cover the pasta and provide a great flavor for the pound of pasta. The recipe could easily serve four as written in the recipe. It was very delicious served with olive oil and Parmesan.

My husband and I are big fans of pasta. This recipe was perfect. The recipe is simple, quick, and I love sweet and tangy tomato flavors.

The hands-on time was just 5 minutes before being ready to cook. From start to finish it was just 30 minutes, which is perfect for those days you don’t want to spend so much time in the kitchen.

My handful of basil came up to approximately 1 1/4 cups and my favorite pasta, bucatini, was on hand so that is what I used.

There was a lot of sauce in the pan, more than enough to cover the pasta. The sauce was thick, even though I still had whole tomato pieces. I adjusted the salt and served on warm plates. I do warm our plates all the time as I do not like cold food when it is supposed to be hot. However, I do not turn the oven every time. I cheat and place them in the microwave for 45 seconds and they are perfect!

For sure, this recipe will be an addition to our weekly pasta dish ritual. More so because is meatless, it requires very little cheese, and because it is so easy.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    This recipe came through the newsletter today and talk about perfect timing!! A friend just gave us a whole bunch of homegrown tomatoes and this was the perfect dish to make. Was quick, tasty, and made enough for leftovers. Thank you, David!!

    1. Hi Penny! We’re delighted that you enjoyed this so much, and thank you for taking the time to let us know.