The delicate, fork-entangling nature of angel hair pasta is a delightful change from spaghetti. Given its slender strands, it has its own set of cooking considerations—or overcooking considerations, as it cooks so quickly that there often isn’t time to taste-test it for doneness. Because package directions often result in overcooked pasta, we came up with our own correct cooking times specific to common brands.–America’s Test Kitchen
Tips to avoid overcooking your pasta
- Instead of tossing the pasta in a pan of bubbling sauce before serving, where it has another chance of overcooking, we toss the delicate pasta with a simple no-cook pesto-like sauce. To allow for the amount of pasta cooking water that’s needed (since angel hair pasta absorbs a lot of liquid), we make our sauce extra-potent: Sun-dried tomatoes, white wine vinegar, and tomato paste make it umami-rich and super-tomato-y, while a generous amount of refreshing mint and some garlic give it a complex, lively aroma.
- Do not follow the cooking time on the pasta box. Boil De Cecco angel hair for 1 1/2 minutes and Barilla and Prince for 3 minutes. Use straight pasta; angel hair curled into nests tends to tangle in the pot.
Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta FAQs
If you’re like us, when it comes time to cook pasta, we measure with our hearts and tend to boil enough for the entire neighborhood. Well, a serving size of angel hair is about two ounces of dried pasta. This meatless recipe calls for twelve ounces of dried pasta, so here the serving size is three ounces.
If you don’t have white wine vinegar, red wine vinegar is a good substitute. It will have a slightly bolder flavor, but it will still work perfectly well.
Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta
- 1/2 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
- 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 teaspoons white wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon store-bought or homemade tomato paste
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 3/4 teaspoon table salt, plus more for cooking pasta
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/8 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 12 ounces angel hair pasta
- 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
- Grated Pecorino Romano cheese
- In a food processor, blitz the sun-dried tomatoes, mint, oil, vinegar, tomato paste, garlic, salt, pepper flakes, and sugar until smooth, 1 to 3 minutes, scraping down sides of the bowl as needed. Transfer to a large heatproof bowl.
- Bring 4 quarts of water to boil in a large pot. Add the pasta and 1 tablespoon of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Reserve 1 1/2 cups pasta cooking water, then drain the pasta in a colander. While the pasta drains, whisk 1 cup of the reserved pasta cooking water into the sauce.
- Add the pasta to the sauce and toss gently with tongs, adjusting consistency with remaining reserved pasta cooking water as needed. Sprinkle with pine nuts. Serve with the grated Pecorino.
More MediterraneanBuy On Amazon
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
This sun-dried tomato angel hair pasta was out of this world! To begin with, the preparation couldn’t have been easier. I was able to assemble and process all of the sauce ingredients in my mini food processor in about 20 mins. Added bonus, no-cook sauce! The tomato and mint sauce was eagerly awaiting the pasta as soon as it came out of the water.
And now the best part of this dish, its flavor! There was so much going on after the first bite and it was all good! The freshness from the mint, which was a nice contrast to the heat from the red pepper flakes, and the umami sun-dried tomatoes and tomato paste grabbed my tastebuds first followed by the slight tanginess from the vinegar and subtle sweetness from the sugar. Each ingredient had an equal spot at the table (family and company)! The final addition of the toasted pine nuts (or toasted walnuts if you want something less expensive) and grated cheese made this truly one of the tastiest, simplest pasta dishes I have made.
The mint in this recipe gave me a little pause, as mint can sometimes dominate. I am happy to report, though, that I was very pleasantly surprised by the outcome.
First, I loved that it was a quick and easy recipe to make. Even though I made it on Saturday when I had plenty of time to cook, it would have been perfect for a quick weeknight meal as well. Second, I adored the flavor of the pesto. The mint was not at all overpowering as I had thought it might be. Tomato flavor shined through and was enhanced beautifully by mint, garlic, and vinegar. Last, the fact that I usually have all of these ingredients on hand means it will be a great panty meal that will be made again and again.
The cooking process and procedures were flawless for this recipe. Flavors of sun-dried tomatoes and mint made such a simple-to-throw-together dish taste more complex. I don’t have a food processor, but my blender did just fine. Next time I will toss the pine nuts into the pasta so they are evenly distributed and my family won’t be fighting over who gets to serve themselves first. To save time, I recommend putting the water on to boil first while you prep the sauce.
As a hungry person you want to have a meal that is fast to throw together and any extra benefits are added bonuses. This sun-dried tomato pasta is fast and the taste bud explosion of surprise is truly the hidden gift to this dish.
I used a fine egg tagliatelle and it only added 3 extra minutes to the cook time, walnuts instead of pine nuts because of an allergy but everything else was exact to the recipe. This pasta dish is beyond magnificent. It is fresh, moreish, and just so filled with sun and joy.
OK, I have a confession to make. When we testers receive recipes, we are not supposed to make changes. But I am a vegan (by choice) and gluten-free (out of medical necessity). And I know I’m not the only one out there. This recipe was soooo very close, I knew I just had to go with it.
The recipe gives very specific cooking times for specific brands of angel hair pasta, none of which are gluten-free. My gluten-free pasta was Le Veneziane brand, and the cooking time on the package was 3 to 4 minutes, so I went with the lowest end of the range, and cooked for 3 minutes. The recipe also tells us not to use a pasta formed into nests. Well, my brand of gluten-free angel hair comes formed into nests. Sorry, not sorry, there is really nothing I can do about this, because gluten-free angel hair isn’t growing on trees. The good news is that there are these amazing things called cooking chopsticks, which are awesome for prying apart nests of pasta (and a lot of other things, like turning foods as you fry them).
For the sauce, I made it as written, but chose to blend it in the food processor attachment to my immersion blender instead of a full-sized food processor. It’s just been my experience that the immersion blender attachment works better for pestos and smaller amounts of sauces.
The pasta turned out perfectly, as did the sauce. Despite the amount of mint in the sauce, it wasn’t overly minty. It really just balanced out the intense umami of sun-dried tomatoes with a pleasant herbal note. Since there is no vegan Pecorino Romano as of yet, I opted for a little bit of grated vegan parmesan. But with the toasted pine nuts adding interest, I don’t think any cheese, vegan or other, was really necessary.
This no-cook sauce is just wonderful. I was anxious to experiment with mint as the only herb in this tomato sauce and am so glad I did. It is indeed lively and bright with a deep tomato flavor and bonus crunch of pine nuts. If a pasta could be called refreshing it would be this one. This recipe is also an entertainer’s best friend as the sauce may be made ahead of time then ready in 3 minutes (in fact I think this allows the flavors to meld and intensify). I did serve this warm with grilled shrimp and it was just a fantastic pairing. It was even good cold leftover. Such a nice change from the usual seasonings.
As much as I love playing around in my kitchen, after a long day of work, sometimes the last thing my brain or my body wants to do is spend an hour cooking dinner. This sun-dried tomato pasta recipe came to the rescue the other night when my husband and I realized it was after 10pm and we hadn’t made dinner yet!
With the food processor taking care of most of the chopping work, the most time-consuming step of this entire recipe was boiling the pasta water. The tip about how long to cook angel hair pasta (3 minutes or under – wow!) is a game-changer as well – it saves time and produced the first angel hair pasta my husband has ever liked.
Lucky for us, the easy-to-make sauce tasted great, too – hearty, bright, and homey all at the same time. For even more deliciousness, really pile on the pecorino (we ended up at about 1/4 cup per person!), add some extra pine nuts, and top with a handful of fresh arugula and a little lemon juice. The perfect, quick, filling dinner for any time of year in under 30 minutes!
This is a wonderfully simple, flavorful, bright pasta dish that can be ready in 30 minutes. I loved how much flavor is packed into the sauce and how easily the flavors soaked into the noodles. Toasted pine nuts and grated pecorino complemented the sauce really well.
Because this recipe comes together so quickly, it inspires me to spend more time on the many vegetable side dishes that I have been wanting to try. I’m a huge fan of the vegetable side dishes served in restaurants in Italy, but I usually don’t have the time or I don’t take the time to make them. With this recipe, it feels very doable to put a pasta dish and a couple of vegetable dishes on the table (at the same time!) on an average weeknight.
My husband served this to his bandmates as a late-night, post-rehearsal snack, and they all loved it.
Originally published May 26, 2022