Learn how to cook grape tomatoes for pasta using just a few simple ingredients and very little prep work.
Highlighting juicy, sweet grape tomatoes and fresh garlic that are seasoned and roasted together, this incredibly flavorful sauce is perfect served over any of your favorite pasta dishes.
We love using smaller tomatoes in dishes like Baked Feta Pasta or this easy Margherita pasta recipe. We do love Italian food!
On a trip to Italy last year, I was able to spend 3 days in Rome and was able to experience the beauty of Paris at night, including the famous Eifel Tower light show.
While I got to see some of the most amazing sites and scenery, it's the food that I just can't seem to stop talking about.
I love how Italians make the freshest of recipes. With all the gorgeous fruits and vegetables and, of course, delicious pasta dishes, Italy can arguably be considered the food capital of the world.
But you can't really have pasta without a savory sauce. This authentic Italian roasted tomato and garlic sauce is one of the easiest and most flavorful sauces I've ever made. It's the next best thing to actually being in Italy.
The best part of this recipe is it uses just a few simple ingredients that you can get at your local farmers market or grocery store. Trust me, after you make this recipe, you'll never reach for store-bought pasta sauce again.
❤️ Why We Love This Recipe
This simple sauce, made with roasted sweet grape tomatoes, is loaded with savory flavors and when served over angel hair pasta, fettuccine, or any pasta of your choice, it's a delicious, bright-tasting meal that your whole family will love.
On top of tasting better than any store-bought sauce, it's also a super easy recipe that makes a quick meal for busy weeknights.
You can even boil the noodles a day ahead of time and store them in the fridge until you're ready to make the sauce.
Roasting the tomatoes and garlic cloves for this recipe really enhances their natural sweetness. It's the perfect companion to the fresh basil.
To keep that natural, sweet flavor, we only have to use a touch of Italian seasoning with simple salt and black pepper.
🛒 What Goes into This Recipe
Fresh bulbs garlic- or you can use pre-roasted garlic: See how to roast garlic in this article.
Olive oil-this is a key ingredient used to make the sauce, so you'll want to use a good quality extra virgin olive oil.
Fresh grape tomatoes, washed well with the stems removed.
Herbs de Provence or Italian seasoning blend.
Fresh basil-you want fresh basil for this recipe, Dried will not give you that fresh taste you're looking for.
👩🏼🍳How to Make Fresh Tomato Pasta Sauce
Preheat oven to 375º and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Step 1. Add the raw tomatoes and the fresh garlic heads to your lined baking pan in a single layer. Drizzle with olive oil, salt, pepper, and herbs de Provence.
Step 2. Toss until tomatoes and garlic are coated. It's okay if some of the garlic breaks apart because you'll take them out of the skins later.
Tip: Spread tomatoes and garlic out so they get evenly caramelized.
Step 3. Roast for 45 minutes, or until the tomatoes begin to pop and caramelizes and the garlic becomes soft enough to mash when you press them with the back of a wooden spoon. Take the pan out of oven and let it cool.
Step 4. Add about three-quarters of the grape tomatoes with half of the fresh basil to the food processor along with 3 tablespoons olive oil.
Step 5. Set aside the rest of the roasted tomatoes. Drain juices from baking sheet into food processor.
Step 6. Remove the garlic cloves out of the skins, being careful not to leave any paper-like skins behind. Add to food processor.
Step 7. Blend tomatoes and garlic until creamy. Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking.
Step 8. Add about a tablespoon of salt to a large pot of water and bring to a boil.
Step 9. Cook pasta according to package directions or until it's al dente, 10-12 minutes. Reserve about a ½ cup of the water from the pasta before draining.
Note: Be sure and test the pasta a few minutes before the suggested time is up. You're looking for slightly chewy, not mushy.
Step 10. Add the fresh grape tomato pasta sauce to the same pot you used for cooking pasta and turn the heat to low. No need to rinse it. Stir gently to combine.
Step 11. Add back enough of the reserved pasta water until it's the right consistency for your taste. I typically use between a quarter and half cup.
Step 12. Return the pasta back to the pot with the sauce. Stir gently until the cooked pasta is coated with sauce. If it's still not thinned out enough add a little more of the reserved starchy pasta water, only if needed.
Step 13. Cut the remaining grape tomatoes in half. Gather the bunch of basil leaves into a roll and thinly slice, using the chiffonade method.
Step 14. Gently stir in the tomatoes and sliced basil until the delicious and flavorful sauce coats the pasta.
Step 15. Divide pasta into two bowls or serve it family style in one large bowl.
We like to serve this with a dollop each of fresh ricotta and our homemade pistachio pesto.
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge
- Protein: If you want to make this a heartier meal, you can add grilled chicken, shrimp, or salmon. Or for classic Italian flavors, you can add browned, ground Italian sausage to the sauce.
- Adjust the seasoning: For a sweeter sauce, you can add a pinch of sugar. For a kick of heat, add a few red pepper flakes. Feel free to add other fresh herbs you prefer.
- Creamy sauce: Give the sauce a creamy texture with about ¼ cup heavy cream.
- Cheesy toppings: Cheese makes everything better. Try sprinkling on some feta cheese, parmesan cheese or pecorino Romano to the plated pasta.
- Tangy twist: If you love to add a tangy note to the finished sauce, drizzle with just a few drops of a good quality balsamic vinegar.
- Low carb: Skip the pasta and serve the sauce over spaghetti squash.
When making this sauce you want to use fresh and juicy tomatoes that break down easily when cooked. You can use larger tomatoes, like Roma, or smaller ones like sweet cherry tomatoes. You may want to avoid large beefsteak tomatoes because they have thicker skins and won't mix in well with the sauce.
While you will lose some of the freshness you get when using fresh tomatoes, you can use canned tomatoes (if you must). If you can find fire roasted canned tomatoes, they would be a better choice.
If you keep it stored in the fridge, it should stay fresh for up to about 4 days. You can also freeze it for about 6 months in a freezer-safe zip lock bag.
Roasting them removes moisture and lightly caramelizes the “meat” of the tomato. The more moisture that is removed the more the flavor is concentrated. This is a perfect way to get tomato flavors into recipes without diluting the other ingredients in the recipe.
- When roasting garlic, make extra! It's awesome spread on this rosemary garlic bread and added to this homemade pistachio pesto.
- It's easier if you separate the tomatoes and garlic on the baking sheet instead of mixing them all together. It makes it easier to pick off the skins of the garlic before tossing everything into the food processor.
- If you decide to use larger tomatoes, like Roma, cut them into even sized chunks and allow them to drain for a bit before roasting them. This allows them to roast evenly and more effectively.
More Delicious Pasta Recipes
How to Cook Grape Tomatoes for Pasta
- 2 bulbs garlic or pre-roasted garlic
- 5 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 pints grape tomatoes stems removed
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt plus more for pasta
- 1 tablespoon herbs de Provence
- ⅓ cup fresh basil
- ½ pound pasta long noodle like linguine, fettuccine, etc.
- black pepper freshly ground
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Preheat oven to 375º.
- Add grape tomatoes and garlic heads to the baking sheet along with oil, salt, pepper, and herbs de Provence.
- Toss until tomatoes and garlic are coated. It's okay if some are broken apart. You will take them out of the skins later. Spread tomatoes and garlic out so nothing is touching. See notes.
- Bake for 45 minutes, until garlic is soft and tomatoes pop. Take out of oven and let it cool.
- Add half of the basil and three-quarters of the grape tomatoes to a food processor along with 3 tablespoons olive oil.
- Set aside the rest of the tomatoes. Drain juices from baking sheet into food processor.
- Slip the garlic out of the skins with your fingers being careful not to leave any papery skins behind. Add to food processor.
- Blend tomatoes and garlic until creamy. Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking.
- Boil water for pasta in a large pot. Add about a tablespoon of salt.
- Cook pasta until it's al dente, 10-12 minutes. Taste test to be sure it is slightly chewy but not soft. Reserve about a ½ cup of the water from the pasta before draining.
- Add grape tomato garlic sauce to the same pot you used for cooking pasta and turn the heat to low. No need to rinse it. Stir gently to combine. This is where you will use the pasta water you saved to make the sauce the right consistency for your taste. I usually use between a quarter and half cup.
- Return the pasta back to the pot with the sauce. Stir gently until pasta is coated with sauce. You can add more of that reserved water at this point if needed.
- Cut the remaining grape tomatoes in half. Roll the basil and thinly slice. (chiffonade method)
- Add the tomatoes, basil to the pot and gently stir to combine.
- Divide pasta into two bowls. You can serve this as is, or top each with desired amount of ricotta and prepared pesto as we did. It's delicious!
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