There is nothing simpler than fettuccine with cherry tomato butter sauce. Bright cherry tomatoes are sauteed in butter with chopped onion, tossed with al dente fettuccine, and finished with fresh parsley and basil. Perfect for weeknights or when you're short on time but don't want to compromise on flavor.
Inspired by Italian culinary Queen Marcella Hazan's tomato butter sauce, our version has just a few tweaks.
Hazan's famous recipe calls for canned crushed tomatoes, an entire onion (not chopped and removed after cooking), and butter.
We opted for fresh cherry tomatoes and chopped onion for ours and it's every bit as delicious.
Because we are using butter, the sauce has an incredibly rich body and a velvety texture that will leave you wondering why you haven't been adding butter to your tomato sauce all along.
Sometimes the best things in life really are the simplest...
How to make it
Each number corresponds to the numbered written steps below.
- Begin by slicing in half 3 pints of cherry tomatoes. Also, dice 1 medium onion.
- In a large pan, saute the onion in 1 stick of unsalted butter for 5 minutes over medium-low heat or until the onions become soft and translucent.
- Add the cherry tomatoes to the pan and season with 1 teaspoon of kosher salt. Cook the sauce over medium heat for 30-35 minutes (stir frequently and lower heat if scorching).
- At this time bring a large pot of salted (2 tablespoons kosher salt per gallon of water) water to boil. After about 20-30 minutes the cherry tomatoes will burst and soften and the butter will completely blend in with the tomatoes. When the sauce is almost to your liking begin boiling the fettuccine to 1 minute less than al dente. If needed, you can turn the heat down or remove the tomato sauce from the burner while waiting for the pasta to cook.
- A few minutes before the pasta finishes cooking, add 1 cup of pasta water to the sauce and stir to combine. Cook the sauce over medium heat. Make sure to reserve extra pasta water in case it's needed later on. Top tip: Get in the habit of reserving your pasta water for all pasta recipes you make. It's always good to have extra pasta water to reconstitute a dried-out pasta or to help emulsify many types of sauces through tossing or rapid stirring.
- Add the pasta to the sauce and toss to coat. Cook until the pasta is just al dente then turn off the heat.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper to get the flavors just right.
- Remove the pan from the heat. Add a ¼ cup of minced parsley and a ¼ cup worth of hand-torn basil leaves, toss once more, then plate. If the sauce is at all dry add more of the reserved pasta water a few ounces at a time to loosen it up. Serve with grated parmesan cheese. Enjoy!
Top tips for velvety cherry tomato butter sauce
- The tomatoes. This recipe uses 3 pints of red cherry tomatoes. Feel free to add another pint - if you want more sauce - or experiment with different colored cherry tomatoes, like orange, yellow, or even the green cherry heirloom type. This is a simple sauce with relatively inexpensive ingredients - the best type of sauce to experiment with. Feel free to add some canned crushed tomatoes to substitute for part of the cherry tomatoes as well.
- The butter. We used unsalted butter for this recipe. If you prefer to use salted butter you can, however, just be sure to taste test as you may not need to add much additional salt at the end.
- Save your pasta water. As with most of our recipes, we recommend saving some pasta water. The pasta water can really help reconstitute the butter and cherry tomato sauce pasta if it becomes too dry. Start by adding just a few ounces at a time to prevent the pasta from becoming overly watery.
- The herbs. We finished this pasta with some hand-torn basil leaves and chopped fresh parsley. These are optional and can be omitted if you don't have them on hand. We don't recommend using dried herbs or seasoning for this recipe.
More simple pasta recipes
One of the great things about fettuccine with cherry tomato butter sauce is that it can be made in about 35 minutes and requires just a few ingredients. Here are a few other simple pasta recipes that are perfect for when you're short on time and don't want to run to the grocery store.
- Fettuccine Alfredo - Butter, Parmigiano Reggiano, starchy pasta water and fettuccine - simple but always delicious.
- Penne puttanesca - Olives, capers, anchovy, tomato, and penne are tossed together in this super flavorful pasta dish.
- Roasted cherry tomato pasta - Cherry tomatoes and garlic are roasted and tossed with pasta, extra virgin olive, and fresh basil.
- Linguine al limone - Lemon zest and juice, fresh basil, Parmigiano Reggiano and butter are tossed with linguine.
- Linguine aglio e olio - The simplest of them all, pasta is tossed with garlic, oil, crushed red pepper, and parsley.
- Tuna pasta - also known as Pasta al tonno, this is made with canned yellowfin tuna, garlic, capers, and fresh parsley.
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- 1 pound fettuccine or linguine, spaghetti, etc
- 3 pints cherry tomatoes halved
- 1 medium onion diced
- 1 stick unsalted butter
- salt and pepper to taste
- ¼ cup parsley minced
- ¼ cup basil hand torn
- 2 cups reserved pasta water will most likely not need it all
- In a large pan saute the onion in butter over medium-low heat until soft (about 5 minutes) then add the tomatoes. Season the tomatoes initially with a teaspoon of kosher salt.
- Cook the sauce over medium heat for 30-35 minutes (stir frequently and lower heat if scorching) or until the cherry tomatoes have burst and softened and the butter has completely blended in with the tomatoes.
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted (2 tablespoons kosher salt per gallon of water) water to boil. When the sauce is almost to your liking begin boiling the fettuccine to 1 minute less than al dente.
- A few minutes before the pasta finishes cooking add 1 cup of pasta water to the sauce and stir to combine. Continue to cook the sauce over medium heat.
- Add the pasta to the sauce and toss to coat. Cook until the pasta is just al dente then turn off the heat and season to taste with more salt and pepper as required. Add the herbs, toss once more, then plate. If the sauce is at all dry, add more of the reserved pasta water a few ounces at a time to loosen it up. Serve with grated parmesan cheese. Enjoy!
- Some tomatoes will be juicer than others. If you need a bit more tomato, feel free to increase the amount of cherry tomatoes or supplement with 14 ounces (half of a can) of crushed plum tomatoes.
- Make sure to reserve extra pasta water, to thin the sauce as much as required to avoid it drying out.
- Leftovers can be saved for up to 3 days and can be reheated in the microwave.