This pasta recipe quickly became a client favorite as soon as I put it on the rotating menu this summer. Lucky for me, it’s also super easy to make and utilizes a short list of simple ingredients. Can you say “lean pantry”? If you’re wondering what the heck I’m talking about, keep reading.
The Lean Pantry concept is my culinary baby. Lean Pantry recipes are those that primarily utilize ingredients from my curated kitchen stock list. I created this stock list by identifying the plant-based & health-supportive ingredients I use the most, both when personal cheffing and also when cooking for myself.
In this recipe, whole wheat pasta, garlic, olive oil, salt & pepper come from the LP stock list. Other than that, all you need is lots of cherry tomatoes & fresh basil. Yep, that’s all folks. For clients, I sometimes add parmesan, goat cheese or fresh mozzarella, but I swear to you, cheese is not required here. I make this pasta at home without the addition of dairy, and even my meat-eating fiancé/husband digs it (fiancé vs husband depends on when you’re reading this).
Another great thing about this recipe is that it’s a true 30 minute recipe. With traditional tomato sauces, a long simmer sesh is required to develop deep flavor from those acidic tomatoes. Cherry tomatoes, on the other hand, are sweet as can be already. As soon as they’ve all bursted in the hot pan (with a little help from my handy wooden spoon), the sauce is pretty much finished.
This recipe also holds up very well in the fridge & freezer. Because it’s an olive oil based sauce, you don’t need to worry about the pasta getting too mushy. It’s also great without any reheating because it basically becomes a pasta salad if eaten cold or at room temp. While you can use white pasta for this, I recommend using whole wheat pasta cooked to al dente because it’s sturdier & more nutritious, and also because it’s on the Lean Pantry stock list. Enjoy!
Bursted Cherry Tomato Pasta with Garlic & Basil
1/2 extra virgin olive oil (plus more for serving)
4 dry pints cherry or grape tomatoes
sea salt, fine grain
1 pound penne pasta or rigatoni (whole wheat recommended)
sea salt, fine grain
6 cloves garlic, minced (approx. 3 tablespoons minced)
1 cup tightly packed fresh basil leaves, chopped or torn (about 1 ounce), plus more for serving
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. When boiling, add pasta and cook to al dente per package instructions. Before draining pasta, reserve 1 cup of the starchy cooking water. This is a very important step!
While water comes to a boil, add 1/2 cup olive oil, tomatoes & 1.5 teaspoons salt to a large skillet. Heat pan to medium/medium-high heat. Cook tomatoes in oil for about 18-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes are beginning to release liquid.
Add garlic to tomatoes and stir to combine. Allow to cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Use the back of a cooking spoon to help crush the tomatoes that haven’t quite bursted. You can crush all of them or leave some whole, up to you. Cook for another 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Turn off heat, add salt to taste.
Stir chopped basil, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper and 1/2 cup reserved pasta cooking water into the tomato sauce. Add drained pasta to sauce and toss to combine. Add more pasta cooking water, to loosen sauce as needed. When serving, drizzle with more olive oil and garnish with fresh basil, if desired.
Quick note on serving sizes – they are irrelevant to me. I’m an intuitive eater and I don’t follow food rules. I personally prefer eating fewer, bigger meals, in which case this recipe would be fewer servings. Use your best judgement based on a pound of pasta, I’m not here to tell you how much to eat.
I don’t think you can have too much basil, so if you love basil, increase the amount to 1.5 or 2 ounces.