Roasted cherry tomato pasta is a simple dish with complex flavor. Cherry tomatoes (you can also use plum tomatoes) and garlic are roasted, tossed with al dente pasta, and finished with extra virgin olive oil and fresh basil. The fragrance of this dish is almost as good as the flavor experienced with each little burst of tomato. And because we use parchment paper to line the roasting pan, the clean-up is a breeze.
Have you ever wondered what to do with imperfect cherry tomatoes?
The ones that are not salad-worthy, but still too good to toss.
What better fate than to roast them with some garlic and toss with pasta?
While this dish does take a bit longer to make than our pasta with fresh cherry tomatoes and basil, the flavor brought forth by the roasting process is very different, and more complex, making it worth the wait.
Ingredients to make a great roasted tomato sauce
This dish has so few ingredients, so using the best quality ingredients is important.
- Tomatoes - as mentioned above, this dish is a great way to use up those less than perfect-looking cherry tomatoes. That being said, the fresher the tomatoes, the better the taste will be. If you can't find cherry or grape tomatoes, I recommend using plum tomatoes. Roma is a variety that's commonly sold in supermarkets. While you could use slicing tomatoes like Beefsteak, Better Boy, or Heirlooms they really have too much liquid in them. This is the reason why 99% of sauce tomatoes sold are either plum like San Marzano or Roma or to a lesser extent grape/cherry tomato varieties.
- Garlic - this is not the time to substitute with garlic powder. The flavor of the roasted garlic cloves is a key component of this dish and really adds to the roasted flavor.
- Basil - this is also not the time to use dried basil. In fact, I'm not sure there is ever a time for dried basil. To be honest the only dried herb worth using is oregano. Throw out that "Italian seasoning". It won't make your food better.
- Extra virgin olive oil - also an essential layer of flavor in roasted cherry tomato pasta. Don't substitute with another oil for this dish.
- Pasta - I love using linguine or spaghetti for this dish, but penne, rigatoni, or ziti would also work well. DeCecco is my go-to brand.
How to make it
Each number corresponds to the numbered written steps below.
- Preheat your oven to 425f. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place tomatoes on top. Drizzle two tablespoons of olive oil onto the tomatoes and sprinkle with kosher salt. Remove the garlic cloves from the skin, drizzle with a touch of olive oil, and wrap them in foil. Place the wrapped garlic cloves on the baking sheet beside the tomatoes. Roast the tomatoes and garlic in the oven for 30 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the oven. Remove the garlic cloves from the foil and mash with the back of a knife or fork.
- Heat a large pan to medium-low heat. Add the remaining olive oil and the mashed roasted garlic. Saute for a minute, then add the red pepper flakes and cook for 30 seconds longer.
- Add the tomatoes and any residual juices from the parchment paper to the pan and cook over medium to medium-low heat to thicken the sauce. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil with 2 tablespoons of kosher salt. Cook the pasta in the boiling water until al dente. Reserve at least 1 cup of pasta water.
- Optional: this recipe calls for 5 pints of cherry tomatoes. If you do not have a full 5 pints, you can make up for it by adding tomato paste. For example, if you have 4 pints of cherry tomatoes, add about 3 tablespoons of paste. It's hard to see but the squeezed paste is in picture 5 below.
- Add the pasta to the pan with the tomatoes and toss to emulsify and coat the pasta. Cook for an additional 30-60 seconds or right until the pasta is done. If the pasta is too dry, add a few ounces of the reserved pasta water. You most likely won't need any pasta water, due to the roasted tomato sauce being on the thin side. Taste test and adjust salt or pepper, if needed. Turn off the heat and add the fresh basil. Serve in bowls with a drizzle of your very best extra virgin olive oil, and grated cheese if desired.
Roasted tomato sauce ideas
Since this is such a simple dish, it can create the perfect backdrop to other ingredients if desired.
Also, don't forget about using this sauce on potato gnocchi.
Some of my favorite additions to this pasta are:
- Burrata - creamy and decadent, adding a few balls of burrata to this dish right before serving will add additional flavor and texture. Burrata can make anything better and I find myself adding it frequently to vegetables, such as zucchini and mushrooms.
- Kalamata olives and capers - I've made this dish many times with olives and capers - a bit of a roasted riff on puttanesca if you will.
- Peppers - roasting some red peppers along with the tomatoes would add another dimension and would be so darn good.
More cherry tomato recipes
I'm a fan of cherry tomatoes! I grow them in my garden and they are never not around in my house. They're great by themselves for snacking or serving alongside dips such as hummus.
If you love cherry tomatoes too, check out some of these recipes:
- Fettuccine with cherry tomato butter sauce - Marcella Hazan-inspired tomato sauce recipe.
- Tomato and mozzarella salad with the easiest vinaigrette - Simple salad with cherry tomatoes, mozzarella, and red onion.
- Pan seared chicken with capers and cherry tomatoes - Easy and delicious weeknight dinner idea.
- Potato and green bean salad with cherry tomatoes - Perfect for summer barbecues.
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- 1 pound linguine spaghetti, penne, etc
- 5 pints cherry tomatoes
- 5 cloves garlic
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil divided
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes optional
- Kosher salt to taste
- ¼ cup basil chopped
- Preheat oven to 425f.
- Place tomatoes on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of olive oil onto the tomatoes and sprinkle with kosher salt. Wrap garlic cloves in foil and add to the baking sheet as well. Roast the tomatoes and garlic in the oven for 30 minutes.
- Remove the garlic cloves from the foil, and mash with the back of a knife.
- Heat a large pan to medium-low heat. Add remaining olive oil and the roasted garlic. Saute for a minute then add in the red pepper flakes and cook for 30 seconds more. Add the tomatoes and the juices to the pan and cook over medium to medium-low heat to slightly thicken the sauce.
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil with 2 tablespoons of Kosher salt. Cook pasta in boiling water to al dente. Reserve at least 1 cup of pasta water!
- Add the pasta to the pan with the tomatoes and toss to coat and emulsify. Cook for 30-60 seconds or right until the pasta is done. If the pasta is too dry, add a touch (couple ounces) of pasta water.
- Taste test and adjust salt and pepper if required. Turn off the heat and add in the basil. Serve in bowls with an extra drizzle of your best extra virgin olive oil and grated cheese on the side. Enjoy!
- The roasted tomatoes will have plenty of liquid after being removed from the oven. Cook in the pan over moderate heat to evaporate the liquid, but not too much to dry out the sauce.
- Any type of tomato can be used, but cherry tomatoes and plum tomatoes have the most flesh and least amount of liquid, making them good for this sauce.
- Leftovers can be saved for up to 5 days. Reheat in the microwave.
- If choosing to make extra sauce, it can be saved for up to 5 days in the fridge or 3 months in the freezer.
So so easy and sooo delicious!
Thanks Ava! Glad you enjoyed it.
In terms of the 5 pints of cherry tomatoes, do you how how many pounds or ounces that equates too? I’m having a tough time with the mental gymnastics of converting that. I seem to come up with 3.75lbs or 60oz but that sounds like too many? I’d love to make this dish correctly so if you could steer me in the right direction I would greatly appreciate it!
Hi Jessie. 1 pint of cherry tomatoes is typically around 11-12 ounces. So 5 pints would be around 60 ounces like you thought. It really isn't too much though, because so much of the fresh tomato weight is water and that will cook off. If you think you have too much sauce, just save it, but I'm pretty sure you won't have much extra. When I made this recipe for YouTube I used fewer cherry tomatoes but had to supplement with tomato paste. That's something you could try if you don't want to buy 5 pints of cherry tomatoes. Enjoy!
Sounds great! Thank you so much!
Made this for dinner tonight and it was delicious! So simple to make - I used whole grain penne pasta and added a sliced small onion to the tomatoes. Thanks for another great recipe!
Hi Brian. Glad it was a hit. Thanks for the comment!
I made this with the cherry tomatoes I had on my garden. It was awesome! The roasted garlic was so flavorful.
Hey Christine. Really glad you enjoyed the recipe. I agree, the roasted garlic makes this simple dish so good!
We made this for dinner tonight and it was delicious! 😋 We have so many cherry tomatoes from our garden and this is a great way to use them! I love your recipes Jim and you give great instructions! Thank you 🤗
Hi Janis, sounds like you put the cherry tomatoes to good use! Thank you for your comment and appreciate your kind words!
Great pasta dish. My wife likes it and it is real easy to make. Love your recipes
Hi Melvin, thanks or the comment and so happy you and your wife enjoyed this one!