Cherry Tomato Pasta

This cherry tomato pasta pairs sweet tomatoes blistered in a hot pan with fresh basil and Parmesan. An easy dinner idea that’s simply stunning! Here’s a meal that’s simple, stunning, and highlights the very best summer ingredients: Cherry Tomato Pasta! Just looking at these photos makes us swoon. (And yes: it tastes as good as it looks.) This easy dinner idea stars blistered tomatoes, a technique of cooking tomatoes in a hot pan until the skin blisters and blackens. Mix the tomatoes with tangy balsamic vinegar, then add al dente pasta and peppery fresh basil. You’ll be amazed at the amount of flavor these classic summer ingredients infuse in 20 minutes. Use it to impress guests, or as a fast and easy dinner that’s over-the-top tasty. Ingredients for cherry tomato pasta Here’s a breakdown of ingredients you’ll need for this cherry tomato pasta recipe. It’s only a handful, but of course you’ll want to have the best tomatoes you can find. Cherry tomatoes: Use only the ripest, best cherry tomatoes. Farmers market or garden tomatoes are ideal. Some grocery stores carry hydroponic greenhouse cherry tomatoes, which can have good flavor. Make sure you know the quality before making this recipe! […]

A Couple Cooks – Healthy, Whole Food, & Vegetarian Recipes

This cherry tomato pasta pairs sweet tomatoes blistered in a hot pan with fresh basil and Parmesan. An easy dinner idea that’s simply stunning!

Cherry tomato pasta

Here’s a meal that’s simple, stunning, and highlights the very best summer ingredients: Cherry Tomato Pasta! Just looking at these photos makes us swoon. (And yes: it tastes as good as it looks.) This easy dinner idea stars blistered tomatoes, a technique of cooking tomatoes in a hot pan until the skin blisters and blackens. Mix the tomatoes with tangy balsamic vinegar, then add al dente pasta and peppery fresh basil. You’ll be amazed at the amount of flavor these classic summer ingredients infuse in 20 minutes. Use it to impress guests, or as a fast and easy dinner that’s over-the-top tasty.

Ingredients for cherry tomato pasta

Here’s a breakdown of ingredients you’ll need for this cherry tomato pasta recipe. It’s only a handful, but of course you’ll want to have the best tomatoes you can find.

  • Cherry tomatoes: Use only the ripest, best cherry tomatoes. Farmers market or garden tomatoes are ideal. Some grocery stores carry hydroponic greenhouse cherry tomatoes, which can have good flavor. Make sure you know the quality before making this recipe!
  • Pasta: You can use any type of pasta here. We like using a short pasta so the tomatoes don’t get lost. See below!
  • Fresh basil: Fresh basil is a must! Not only does it have a lovely contrasting color, it completes the flavor.
  • Grated Parmesan cheese: This is the type that is like powdery snow, not thin sticks. You can use either, but the powdery effect melds into the pasta better.
  • Olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper: Round it out with the usual suspects for an Italian dish!
Cherry tomato pasta

Tips for blistered tomatoes

Blistered tomatoes are cooked quickly in a hot pan so the outsides get blackened and the tomatoes deflate but don’t burst. The technique for making blistered tomatoes is fast, but you need to know a few pointers before you start! Read this before proceeding with the cherry tomato pasta:

  • Important: don’t crowd the pan! If the pan is crowded when you attempt this recipe, the tomatoes will steam instead of blister. They’ll get all wet and soggy. This is not what you want!
  • You may need to blister the tomatoes in batches. Use your largest skillet and make sure there are space between the tomatoes. If not, blister the tomatoes in 2 batches!
  • Don’t touch the tomatoes for the first minute of cooking. This lets the tomatoes get perfectly blackened on one side. Then shake the pan during the rest of cooking so they are cooked on all sides.
Cherry tomato pasta

Use a short pasta shape

You can use any type of pasta for this cherry tomato pasta. But we prefer using short cuts. Why? The tomatoes can get lost in long pasta because it all clumps together. Short cut pasta makes it easier to get tomatoes and pasta in every bite. Here are some of the pasta shapes we recommend here:

  • Orecchiette: This is the pasta shape shown here! It means “little ears” in Italian, and it has a fun, unique shape.
  • Penne: Penne is easy to find and works well.
  • Rigatoni: This tublar pasta shape is another favorite of ours.
  • Cavatappi: Cork-screw shaped pasta would be great here.
  • Shells: If you can’t find orecchiette, small or medium shells are a good substitute.

How to cook perfectly al dente cherry tomato pasta

No pressure, but making perfectly al dente pasta is the key to this recipe! Cherry tomato pasta is only great if your pasta has just the right chewy bite. In fact, al dente means “to the bite” in Italian. The ideal texture is a tender exterior, balanced by a firm bite with a fleck of white at its core. Here are our tips on how to cook pasta to al dente:

  • Taste often. Do not trust the package instructions! While cooking, check pasta continually for doneness. Many package instructions have inaccurate timing.
  • Look for a small white fleck. Drain the pasta as soon as the pasta has a tender exterior but a fleck of white at its core! Even a few seconds can be the difference between al dente and limp noodles.
  • Remember to reserve some pasta water! In this recipe, you’ll need a little pasta water before you drain. See below!
Cherry tomato pasta

Use pasta water to deglaze the pan

A trick from the Italians: reserve pasta water from boiling your pasta and use it to create a sauce! This technique is crucial in Italian cuisine: the starchy water from cooking the pasta makes the best loose sauces. (It’s the key to this Creamy White Sauce Pasta and Pesto Pasta.) Here’s what to know about using this technique in this cherry tomato pasta recipe:

  • Pull out the pasta water with a liquid measuring cup before draining. It’s easy to forget, actually. (We do it all the time!) Get out your liquid measuring cup in advance and place it on the counter right next to the pan as a memory jogger.
  • Use the pasta water to deglaze the pan juices. You’ll saute garlic in the same pan as the blistered tomatoes, then pour in a little water to deglaze all the pan juices. (You could use white wine for this part if you wanted to be fancy.)

What to serve with cherry tomato pasta

And that’s it: all the tips you need to make a killer cherry tomato pasta! When it comes to serving this pasta as a meal, it needs a little plant-based protein to round it out if you’re going vegetarian. Of course, it would be a fantastic side dish for baked salmon or grilled fish. If you want a meatless meal, here’s what we’d recommend:

Cherry tomato pasta

This cherry tomato pasta recipe is…

Vegetarian.

Print
Cherry tomato pasta

Cherry Tomato Pasta


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (6 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 3 to 4 servings
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Description

This cherry tomato pasta pairs sweet tomatoes blistered in a hot pan with fresh basil and Parmesan. An easy dinner idea that’s simply stunning!


Ingredients

  • 8 ounces short pasta (penne, rigatoni, orecchiette (shown here), shells, cavatappi, etc)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 pints whole cherry tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • Kosher salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1/4 cup pasta water
  • 1 handful fresh small basil leaves, chopped if large

Instructions

  1. Make the pasta: Start a pot of well salted water to a boil. Boil the pasta until it is just al dente. Start tasting a few minutes before the package recommends: you want it to be tender but still a little firm on the inside; usually around 7 to 8 minutes. Before draining, reserve some pasta water with a liquid measuring cup (at least 1/4 cup). Drain the pasta.
  2. Blister the tomatoes: Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a very large heavy skillet over medium high heat. Once hot, add the tomatoes, making sure there is space around each tomato (they are not touching) and the pan is not crowded. If you’re using a medium pan, cook the tomatoes in 2 batches.* Cook for 1 minute without touching the pan, then 2 to 3 more minutes until blistered, shaking the pan several times to rotate the tomatoes. Turn off the heat and drizzle with the balsamic vinegar, gently shaking several times to coat. Add 2 pinches kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste. Remove the tomatoes from the pan to a bowl.
  3. Finish the dish: Mince the garlic. Once the pasta is done, in the same pan, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium low heat. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute until fragrant. Deglaze the pan with 1/4 cup pasta water, scraping the pan with a spoon to release all of the flavor of the tomato juices. Turn off the heat.
  4. Add the pasta to the pan and toss to coat. Add the blistered tomatoes, 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, and basil. Season with 2 pinches of kosher salt and lots of fresh ground pepper. Taste and add more salt if necessary. Serve with the remaining 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top.

Notes

*If the pan is too crowded, the tomatoes will steam instead of blistering. It all depends on the size of your pan: if you’re using a medium pan, you’ll have to cook 1 pint at a time.

  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Italian

Keywords: Cherry tomato pasta

A Couple Cooks - Healthy, Whole Food, & Vegetarian Recipes

Creamy Cavatappi Pasta

Cavatappi pasta is corkscrew shaped and great with creamy sauces. Serve it with a creamy white sauce, spinach, and sundried tomatoes for an easy dinner! This post was created in partnership with DeLallo. All opinions are our own. Here’s a tasty pasta recipe that’s comfort food with a healthy spin: our creamy cavatappi pasta! It’s one of Alex and my favorite pasta shapes, paired with a creamy sauce that coats the noodles perfectly. It’s cheesy but not too rich, made with a secret ingredient to infuse nutrients. It perfect as a weeknight pasta dinner but fancy enough for entertaining. Our son Larson could not get enough of this “mac and cheese” (his words)! It’s made with our favorite Italian pasta brand: Delallo. They’re a family business that knows how to make the best pasta out there. What is cavatappi pasta? Cavatappi means corkscrew in Italian! Cavatappi pasta is macaroni that’s shaped into corkscrews. It’s best eaten with creamy or chunky sauces. Our favorite is this creamy cavatappi recipe (scroll down), or it makes a mean mac and cheese! Alex and I love this pasta shape because it’s unique and substantial: we find that the unexpected shape slows us down to really […]

A Couple Cooks – Healthy, Whole Food, & Vegetarian Recipes

Cavatappi pasta is corkscrew shaped and great with creamy sauces. Serve it with a creamy white sauce, spinach, and sundried tomatoes for an easy dinner!

Cavatappi pasta

This post was created in partnership with DeLallo. All opinions are our own.

Here’s a tasty pasta recipe that’s comfort food with a healthy spin: our creamy cavatappi pasta! It’s one of Alex and my favorite pasta shapes, paired with a creamy sauce that coats the noodles perfectly. It’s cheesy but not too rich, made with a secret ingredient to infuse nutrients. It perfect as a weeknight pasta dinner but fancy enough for entertaining. Our son Larson could not get enough of this “mac and cheese” (his words)! It’s made with our favorite Italian pasta brand: Delallo. They’re a family business that knows how to make the best pasta out there.

What is cavatappi pasta?

Cavatappi means corkscrew in Italian! Cavatappi pasta is macaroni that’s shaped into corkscrews. It’s best eaten with creamy or chunky sauces. Our favorite is this creamy cavatappi recipe (scroll down), or it makes a mean mac and cheese! Alex and I love this pasta shape because it’s unique and substantial: we find that the unexpected shape slows us down to really enjoy each bite.

Cavatappi pasta

What’s in this cavatappi pasta recipe?

This recipe is a fantastic way to eat cavatappi! The sauce is creamy and cheesy, but it’s hiding some good-for-you ingredients too. Here are our secrets to this creamy cavatappi pasta recipe:

  • Cavatappi pasta. Cook it to al dente to enjoy the full effect of this dish. Get the best quality pasta you can find (here’s the Delallo cavatappi we used).
  • Creamy cauliflower sauce. Here’s the secret: cauliflower! Our cauliflower sauce is a healthy alfredo sauce that blends cauliflower with garlic, spices, and a little Parmesan. It’s terrifically good and it’s got all the nutrients of cauliflower.
  • Baby spinach. A few handfuls of spinach make for another dose of nutrients. You’ll cook the spinach in the pasta water in the last minute, so you don’t need to dirty an extra pot!
  • Sundried tomatoes. Finely chopped sundried tomatoes add a savory component that makes the entire dish just right!
Creamy cavatappi pasta

All about Delallo pasta!

Delallo is our favorite Italian foods brand, a family business that’s been around since the 1950’s. They’re obsessed with quality and making the very best in Italian foods. Pasta, tomatoes, pesto, meats and cheeses, olives and antipasti, bruschetta—they do it all.

DeLallo’s pasta (like this cavatappi pasta) comes from Southern Italy, in an area just below Naples known as the birthplace of pasta. It’s made with only wheat and water, with the highest of quality ingredients. Then it’s extruded with bronze dies: this creates a surface perfect for absorbing and capturing every type of sauce. Does it really make a difference? Yes! Alex and I have taste tested and bronze die pasta really does absorb the sauce flavors better. Check out all of Delallo’s pastas here!

Pasta shapes

How to cook pasta to al dente

Now for a truly authentic experience, you absolutely must cook your cavatappi pasta to al dente. What does al dente mean? In Italian it means “to the bite” and refers to pasta that is still firm on the inside when cooked. The ideal al dente texture is a tender exterior balanced by a firm bite with a fleck of white at its core. Here’s how to cook pasta to al dente:

  • Boil the pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water.
  • While cooking, be sure to check pasta continually for doneness.
  • As soon as the pasta has a tender exterior but a fleck of white at its core, drain it! Even a few seconds can be the difference between al dente and limp noodles.
Cavatappi pasta

Why make a creamy cauliflower sauce?

Why make sauce with cauliflower? This sauce is like a healthy alfredo sauce, but unlike the traditional version, you’ll feel light and vibrant afterwards! The standard cheesy pasta often feels too rich and I end up with an upset stomach. This cauliflower sauce is much lighter. Even better, you get all the nutritional benefits of cauliflower. So this cavatappi pasta works as an easy, healthy dinner idea. Here’s a breakdown of cauliflower nutrition (source Harvard Medical School):

  • 1 cup of chopped cauliflower has only 25 calories and 5 grams carbs
  • It’s a great source of Vitamin C, Vitamin B and potassium.
  • Cauliflower is high in fiber (1 cup has about 10% of your daily needs).
Creamy cauliflower sauce

How to reheat cavatappi pasta

You can save any leftovers of this cavatappi pasta in the refrigerator. Alex and I even found a great way to reheat it so it’s creamy again after refrigerating! Here’s how to reheat leftover cavatappi pasta:

  • Place it in a skillet and add a splash of milk. Use a ratio of about 1 cup noodles to 1 tablespoon milk.
  • Heat over medium heat and stir until creamy.
Creamy cavatappi pasta

This cavatappi pasta recipe is…

Vegetarian.

Print
Cavatappi pasta

Creamy Cavatappi Pasta


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (6 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: 8

Description

Cavatappi pasta is corkscrew shaped and great with creamy sauces. Serve it with a creamy white sauce, spinach, and sundried tomatoes for an easy dinner!


Ingredients

  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 1 small head cauliflower (1 1/2 to 2 pounds), enough for 6 cups florets
  • 4 tablespoons butter or olive oil
  • 2 cups vegetable broth, divided
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1 pound Delallo cavatappi pasta
  • 4 cups baby spinach
  • 3 tablespoons Delallo sundried tomatoes, minced
  • Red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon finely minced parsley

Instructions

  1. Make the cauliflower sauce: Mince the garlic. Chop the cauliflower.
  2. Heat the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the cauliflower and saute for 4 minutes until lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for 1 to 2 minutes until fragrant. Add the vegetable broth, garlic powder, oregano, and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Bring to a simmer, then cover and cook 6 to 7 minutes on medium high heat until the cauliflower is tender when pierced with a fork.
  3. Meanwhile, make the pasta: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Boil the pasta until it is al dente (start tasting a few minutes before the package recommends: you want it to be tender but still a little firm on the inside). When the pasta is just about al dente, add spinach to pasta water in last 45 seconds (it only needs this long to cook). Then drain the pasta and spinach and return to the pot.
  4. Blend the cauliflower sauce: When the cauliflower is cooked (in Step 3), carefully transfer the hot cauliflower and broth mixture to a blender. Blend on high until a smooth sauce forms. Add 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese and an additional 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and blend again.
  5. Serve: Once the pasta is done, pour in the cauliflower sauce. Add the chopped sundried tomatoes, the additional 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, and red pepper flakes (if using). Taste and if desired add salt or fresh ground pepper. Top with parsley and serve. Store leftovers refrigerated (see reheating instructions above.

  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Italian

Keywords: Cavatappi pasta, Pasta dinner ideas, Cauliflower sauce

A Couple Cooks - Healthy, Whole Food, & Vegetarian Recipes