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Quick and easy cherry tomato basil pasta with fresh tomatoes, garlic, and basil comes together in just 30 minutes for a low-fuss, last-minute weeknight meal!

completed 15-Minute Cherry Tomato Basil Pasta in a bowl
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15-Minute Pasta with Fresh Tomatoes and Basil

Last night was one of ‘those evenings’; energy levels were at 25% (and the lure of takeout at 70%), which is where cherry tomato basil pasta came in to save the day. With just a handful of inexpensive ingredients we always have on hand, it’s easy to pull together this surprisingly simple pasta dish in just 15 minutes.

This crowd-pleasing cherry tomato pasta is bursting with the sweet-tart flavor of cherry tomatoes, earthy garlic, and aromatic basil for a dish that perfectly highlights summer flavors but can easily be enjoyed year-round thanks to readily available cherry tomatoes.

It’s fresh, healthy, bright, loaded with antioxidants, and ready in three simple steps. You can even adapt or add to it in several ways to fit your flavor, diet, and macro goals. That includes adding spice, plant protein, vegan cheese, veg, and more.

Looking for more simple vegan pasta ideas? Check out our 20-minute creamy tahini pasta, avocado pesto pasta, or sun-dried tomato pasta salad.

The Ingredients and Substitutes

ingredients for 15-Minute Cherry Tomato Basil Pasta on a white surface
  • Pasta: Use whatever you have to hand. E.g., regular, whole wheat or gluten-free, long or short-shaped pasta like linguine, spaghetti, fettuccine, bowtie, penne, tagliatelle, etc. We used angel hair pasta this time. Orzo or giant couscous also work.
  • Bouillon/stock cubes: Cook the pasta in seasoned water to add more flavor. Use a low-sodium broth/stock powder if preferred.
  • Oil: Use neutral cooking oil like olive or avocado oil. We recommend using olive oil when cooking tomatoes, though, since it adds heaps of flavor AND increases our bodies’ ability to absorb the powerful antioxidant lycopene from tomatoes.
  • Garlic: Adjust the amount to your preference. Use roasted garlic, if preferred.
  • Tomatoes: Enjoy this delicious fresh basil and tomato pasta year-round with cherry tomatoes. Grape tomatoes or baby plum tomatoes make good back-ups.
  • Basil: Fresh basil is our favorite way to complement the fresh tomatoes, but other herbs will work, too – like parsley, chives, oregano, thyme, etc.
  • Sea salt: To season the pasta to taste. Feel free to use some black pepper, too.

What Could I Add to Cherry Tomato Pasta?

  • Red pepper flakes: Add to taste for some spice in the basil and garlic pasta.
  • Sugar: If the tomatoes are too acidic, add a pinch of sugar to balance the flavors.
  • Vegan cheese: Sprinkle over some nutritional yeast for a subtle ‘cheesy’ flavor, use a specific vegan parmesan, or make vegan tomato, basil, and vegan mozzarella pasta.
  • Protein: Add some butter beans, chickpeas, pan-fried tofu, vegan chick’n, etc.
  • Lemon: A small amount of lemon zest and juice brightens tomato basil pasta’s flavors.
  • Vegan cream cheese: Unflavored – for a creamier pasta sauce.
  • Vegetables: There are several ways to add more flavor, color, and nutrients, such as:
    • Peas/ corn (frozen, added towards the end)
    • Spinach (several handfuls added towards the end)
    • Leek (Sauteed until tender)
    • Zucchini (ditto above)
    • Black olives (halved for briny tang)

How to Make Cherry Tomato Basil Pasta

3 simple steps and 15 minutes are all you need to get this simple, delicious cherry tomato and basil pasta from kitchen to table.

  • First, cook the pasta according to its package instructions minus 1-2 minutes (until al dente), reserving ½ cup of pasta water and draining the rest. Meanwhile, peel and mince the garlic and leave the tomatoes whole or halve/quarter them depending on your desired texture.

The more you chop the tomatoes, the more they will break down naturally to create more of a tomato basil sauce with fewer ‘chunks.’

  • Then, in the same pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Once hot, add the tomatoes and garlic and sauté for 2-4 minutes, allowing the tomatoes to soften, then gently mash some or all of them with a wooden spoon/ potato masher to form a sauce.

For more blistered tomatoes (especially If leaving some whole), don’t stir them too often so they have a chance to char/blister – this can take 4-5 minutes.

  • Stir in the pasta, pasta water, and basil, then season with salt to taste, serve, and enjoy!

Pro Recipe Tips

  • Don’t drain the pasta water: This starchy water will help the pasta sauce cling to the noodles. You can even store unused pasta water for an extra day or 2 in the fridge.
  • Cook the pasta al dente: Especially if you plan to have leftovers, since it will further soften while it sits. To do so, cook it for 1-2 minutes less than the package directions. It should be tender with just a little ‘bite.’
  • Adjust the texture: You can mash just a portion or all of the tomatoes.
  • Be careful not to burn the garlic: Otherwise, it can add a bitter flavor to the entire dish. To avoid it entirely, add garlic to the pan only once the tomato skins begin splitting.
  • To save time: Cook the tomatoes in a separate pan while the pasta cooks. It means an extra pan to wash but shaves a few minutes off the prep time.
completed 15-Minute Cherry Tomato Basil Pasta in a bowl

How to Store and Reheat

Allow the cherry tomato pasta to cool, and store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. You can enjoy the leftovers chilled or reheated.

You can technically also freeze it for 3-4 months, though pasta becomes very soft upon thawing, and you might want to add extra fresh basil when reheating.

Reheat the pasta with basil and tomato gently on the stovetop over medium-low heat or in a microwave for 1-2 minutes. Add a splash of water or broth if needed.

What to Serve with Fresh Tomato and Basil Pasta?

Like most pasta dishes, this simple pasta with fresh basil and tomatoes can be enjoyed alone or with one or several sides like:

More Vegan Pasta Recipes

Photos by Alfonso Revilla

completed 15-Minute Cherry Tomato Basil Pasta in a bowl

15-Minute Cherry Tomato Basil Pasta

5 from 26 votes
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 30 minutes
Servings: 4 to 6
Quick and easy cherry tomato basil pasta with fresh tomatoes, garlic, and basil comes together in just 15 minutes for a low-fuss, last-minute weeknight meal!

Ingredients 

  • 1 (1-pound) package of angel hair spaghetti
  • ¼ cup of olive oil
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 pints of cherry or grape tomatoes, cut into quarters
  • 1 cup of chopped basil
  • ½ teaspoon of salt

Instructions 

  • Cook the pasta according to package instructions, reserve ½ cup of pasta water, drain, and set aside.
  • In the same pot over medium heat, heat oil. Add garlic and tomatoes and cook for 2 or 3 minutes, gently mashing the tomatoes with the back of a spatula or wooden spoon.
  • Stir in the basil, salt, pasta, and pasta water.

Notes

Note: If you have bouillon paste or cubes, stir some into the pasta water for extra flavor (ratio according to the package directions).  
  • Don’t drain the pasta water: This starchy water will help the pasta sauce cling to the noodles. You can even store unused pasta water for an extra day or 2 in the fridge.
  • Cook the pasta al dente: Especially if you plan to have leftovers, since it will further soften while it sits. To do so, cook it for 1-2 minutes less than the package directions. It should be tender with just a little ‘bite.’
  • Adjust the texture: You can mash just a portion or all of the tomatoes.
  • Be careful not to burn the garlic: Otherwise, it can add a bitter flavor to the entire dish. To avoid it entirely, add garlic to the pan only once the tomato skins begin splitting.

Nutrition

Calories: 611kcalCarbohydrates: 100gProtein: 18gFat: 16gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 10gSodium: 316mgPotassium: 1127mgFiber: 8gSugar: 12gVitamin A: 3273IUVitamin C: 51mgCalcium: 77mgIron: 3mg

Disclaimer: Although plantbasedonabudget.com attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, kindly note that these are only estimates. Nutritional information may be affected based on the product type, the brand that was purchased, and in other unforeseeable ways. Plantbasedonabudget.com will not be held liable for any loss or damage resulting for your reliance on nutritional information. If you need to follow a specific caloric regimen, please consult your doctor first.

Additional Info

Author: Toni Okamoto
Course: Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine: Italian
Method: Stovetop
Diet: Vegan
Tried this recipe?Please tag us at @PlantBasedOnABudget! 🙂
About

Toni Okamoto

“They say you are what you eat, so I strive to be healthy.
My goal in life is not to be rich or wealthy,
‘Cause true wealth comes from good health and wise ways…
we got to start taking better care of ourselves ” – Dead Prez

More about Toni Okamoto
5 from 26 votes (24 ratings without comment)

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