Burst Cherry Tomato Pasta
Updated 24th August 2023
With a few pints of tomatoes, garlic, fresh herbs, olive oil & pasta, you can make this easy burst cherry tomato sauce pasta for a quick weeknight dinner. Use as many varieties as you can get your hands on for this fresh tomato sauce. Any colour or shape will work – the more, the merrier! It is so satisfying to see the tomatoes wrinkle and burst in the pan in minutes stovetop. Their natural juices release into the pan creating a very luscious sauce full of flavor to swirl your pasta through. It comes together in minutes and makes for the perfect midweek meal. This burst cherry tomato sauce is meant to be chunky - it’s not a smooth sauce but feel free to blend the sauce for a smoother finish.
After squeezing in a quick getaway before the start of September, I’m still not ready for summer to end quite yet. You can tell from all the tomato content I’m posting - I was excited for the season and wanted to share just about every one of my tomato recipes! Plus I had an influx of tomatoes, especially cherry tomatoes from a pile of client work so a whole lot of cherry tomato recipes were definitely in order. It’s a good thing that they are abundant right now, tomatoes are sweet, juicy, and practically glowing with ripeness. Every bite is an explosion of flavor in this dish with some of the tomatoes melting away into the sauce and others still whole waiting to burst in your mouth.
It might seem like a whole lot of olive oil in this recipe but trust me it’s needed. The burst part of the recipe and tomatoes comes when you simmer the tomatoes in olive oil until they begin to burst open, and then they cook a little longer until together with the oil, garlic, shallots and basil turn into a delicious sauce. The olive oil is necessary for this recipe to work as it is my Cherry Tomato Confit. The highly acidic tomatoes need a lot of fat/oil in order to emulsify into a glossy and delicious sauce that coats the pasta. If you love my Oven Roasted Tomatoes With Burrata you will love this stove top sauce that is very hands off and irresistible.
Ingredients for this Burst Cherry Tomato Pasta Sauce:
- Extra-virgin Olive Oil: For richness. It’s a lot I know - but trust me you need it. See more about this in the post. Use a good extra virgin olive oil since it adds so much to this sauce and pasta dish.
- Tomatoes: Small tomatoes are best, which is why I like cherry tomatoes. They can be different colours and shapes. I love cherry tomatoes. I prefer them over grape tomatoes. Grape tomatoes have a taut, tough skin and they’re never sweet. If you can’t find cherry tomatoes, this recipe works with regular tomatoes or Roma tomatoes (cut into smaller pieces), which will break down in the same time.
- Pasta: I like using short pasta but any pasta will work even spaghetti. The chewy, al dente noodles contrast perfectly with the juicy cherry tomatoes.
- Garlic & Shallots: We are big on garlic at our house as you guys know, but feel free to adjust to taste - they add a delicious flavour to the sauce and overall pasta dish. The shallots add a nice sweetness to the sauce.
- Red Pepper Flakes: I love to add red pepper flakes to any tomato dish for that touch of heat. Feel free to adjust according to taste.
- Fresh Basil: Because tomatoes + basil are perfect together! Feel free to add or replace the basil with fresh herbs of choice like oregano, thyme or rosemary
- Parmesan Cheese: You can stir freshly grated parmesan cheese right into the pasta or you can serve it on the side.
- Pinch of Sugar: This is optional but if you feel the sauce is too acidic then feel free to add a pinch - although cherry tomatoes are naturally sweeter and likely do not need it
- Extra add ins: Lemon zest, chopped Olives, Capers Balsamic vinegar, Smoked sausage, prosciutto or chorizo
How to Make This Burst Cherry Tomato Sauce Recipe (full instructions in recipe card below)
- Heat olive oil in a large skillet/sauté pan and add the shallots and garlic and cook until softened
- Add tomatoes. Swirl them around in the pan so they are get heated on all sides.
- Cook tomatoes with chili flakes a basil until they start to burst - You can give the tomatoes a nudge to burst, by gently pushing some of them down with the back of a wooden spoon as necessary, or poking them with the edge of a sharp knife.
- Continue cooking and stirring until tomatoes have released their juices and have turned into a luscious sauce
- Cook pasta while sauce is simmering and then drain and add to sauce and stir cooking until coated. Serve with cheese and basil and enjoy!
What Else Can I Eat This Burst Tomato Sauce With?
- Spaghetti or an other shape pasta or even zucchini noodles (zoodles)
- Easily toss with baked meatballs
- Make a shakshuka out of it or spoon over fried eggs
- Spoon over crusty bread or sourdough toast with feta or burrata
- Use a a simple pizza sauce or sauce over flat bread
If you like this recipe you will love these:
- 12-14 oz pasta (I like to use short pasta but spaghetti will work too)
- ½ cup olive oil
- 1 small shallot, peeled and chopped
- 6 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
- 4 pints cherry tomatoes (approx 8 cups)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- ¼ teaspoon Chili pepper flakes
- Pinch of sugar (optional)
- 2 large sprigs of basil plus 1 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil for serving
- Parmesan cheese, freshly grated (for serving)
- Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat
- Add shallots, season lightly with salt, and cook, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, until shallots are softened but not browned. Add garlic and continue to cook for another minute, stirring frequently until garlic is softened. Adjust heat to medium-heat if needed.
- Add cherry tomatoes, basil sprigs and chili flakes, swirling them around in the skillet to distribute them in an even layer, and cook until tomatoes begin to burst, about 4-5 minutes. You can coax the tomatoes into bursting by pressing down on them with a wooden spoon, but leave some tomatoes whole.
- Continue to cook and stir tomato mixture until it forms a creamy, emulsified sauce, with some tomatoes still whole but others completely broken down, approx another 8-10 minutes longer. Check for salt and pepper and season as needed and stir in a pinch of sugar if sauce is too tart. Pluck out the basil sprigs.
- While sauce is simmering, cook pasta in a large pot according to package directions then drain reserving a little bit of pasta water and add the pasta to the skillet and cook stirring just another minute until well coated, adding a touch of pasta water if needed to loosen up pasta
- Remove from heat, stir in basil and season to taste with more salt. Serve immediately in large bowl family style or in individual bowls. Serve with Parmesan cheese and extra basil according to taste or serve with some torn burrata.
- This pasta dish like many others are better eaten the same day. If you have leftovers they can be stored in a sealed container in the fridge for several days. Add a touch of water or stock to pasta when reheating stove top over medium-low heat or in the microwave.