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 (or any mix of herbs you like). 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.
Bursted Cherry Tomato Pasta with Garlic & Herbs
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
6 cloves garlic, peeled and minced (up to 8 cloves if you love garlic)
1 cup tightly packed herbs like fresh basil leaves and/or mint, chopped or torn
1/2 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 2 cups of the starchy cooking water. This is a very important step!
While water comes to a boil, add 1/2 cup olive oil, tomatoes & 2 teaspoons salt to a large skillet or pot (preferably with a lid). Heat pan to medium/medium-high heat. Cook tomatoes in oil for about 16-18 minutes, partially covered if using a lidded pot, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes are beginning to release liquid.
Reduce heat to medium-low and add minced garlic and black pepper to tomatoes and stir to combine. Allow to cook for about 6-8 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. Turn off heat, add salt to taste.
Turn off heat and stir in chopped herbs and 1/2 cup reserved pasta cooking water. 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 herbs, if desired.
I don’t think you can have too many herbs, so if you love fresh herbs as much as i do, increase the amount to 1.5 or 2 ounces.