Roasted cherry tomatoes tossed with olive oil and herbs make this deliciously rich and flavorful cherry tomato pasta sauce a must-try recipe! This recipe comes together in just over 30 minutes and is perfect for summer.
- Type of tomatoes: This recipe uses cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes. They are roasted until bursting and add a rich, deep flavor to the pasta sauce.
- Simple ingredients: The sauce uses under 10 ingredients, most of which are pantry staples!
- Quick to make: Ready in just over 30 minutes.
- Versatile: This sauce is easy to double, freeze and customize.
If you're like me and are wondering what to do with cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes, this pasta sauce is the answer! Last year I tried my hand at growing tomatoes for the first time and I ended up with so many cherry tomatoes. As a result, I made this sauce almost every week last summer.
- Cherry tomatoes: I like to use a mix of red and orange tomatoes for appearance. You can also use grape tomatoes or even small slicing tomatoes.
- Olive oil: I recommend an olive oil that you enjoy the flavor of because it contributes a lot to the sauce. But you don't need to buy the most expensive bottle at the grocery store; you can usually get a flavorful olive oil in the middle price range.
- Garlic: I use 3-6 garlic cloves, depending on the clove size. This makes the pasta sauce very garlicky. Adjust to taste.
- Dry herbs: Dry parsley, thyme, rosemary and oregano add a bunch of flavor. All of the herbs in this recipe can be omitted or substituted.
Step by step instructions
Note: You do need to cook pasta when you make this sauce because the recipe uses pasta water. Reserve at least ½ cup pasta water from the cooked pasta. If you don't plan to cook pasta when making the sauce, simply use an equal amount of water and adjust salt to taste.
Step one: Layer cherry tomatoes and sliced garlic on a half sheet pan. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, tossing with clean hands to coat. You can layer the sheet pan with parchment paper for easier cleanup if desired.
Step two: Roast cherry tomatoes and garlic at 400F for 20 minutes total. After 10 minutes remove the tomatoes and stir them around. Return to the oven for another 10 minutes, or until the cherry tomatoes burst and the skins are shriveled.
Step three: Place a medium saucepot over medium heat. Once hot, drizzle in 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add the dry herbs to bloom. Cook for 30 seconds to a minute, stirring frequently to prevent burning.
Step four: Add in the cherry tomatoes, garlic, any liquid that collected on the pan, salt, and half of the basil. Stir to combine. Add in ¼ cup pasta water to thin the sauce. Simmer uncovered for 5 minutes to allow the flavors to develop.
At this point, you can serve the cherry tomato sauce or immersion blend it. Add extra pasta water as needed to thin the sauce.
Tips and customization
- This recipe makes only about 2-4 servings, depending on your appetite. You can easily double or even triple the recipe. The baking time will remain the same.
- Texture: This is a pretty chunky sauce as-is. You can puree it in a blender or immersion blend it to make smooth sauce.
- Sweetness: The cherry tomatoes are naturally sweet, so I don't add any sugar. If you do want a sweeter pasta sauce you can add ½ teaspoon white sugar.
- Herbs: You can use 1 and ½ teaspoons fresh chopped herb in place of ½ teaspoon dry herb as desired. Feel free to adjust the herbs to taste.
- Garlic: You can make extra garlick-y sauce by roasting an entire bulb of garlic. To do this, slice the top inch off of a bulb of garlic and drizzle with olive oil. Wrap in foil and roast for 45 minutes to an hour.
- Heat: Add a pinch or two of red pepper flakes to make the sauce spicy.
Storage and serving
- Refrigeration: For best quality, keep homemade tomato sauce refrigerated in a closed container for 3-4 days.
- Freezing: This sauce freezes well. Let cool to room temp before transferring to a freezer-safe jar or container. Make sure to leave at least ½ inch of space at the top of the container for expansion. Freeze for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating.
- Serving: Use cherry pasta tomato sauce anywhere you use regular pasta sauce. I always top it with fresh Parmesan cheese and additional fresh basil. Make it a meal with panko breaded tofu cutlets, crispy chickpeas, or your favorite protein. Spinach also goes really well wilted into the sauce.
Yes, but I recommend slicing them into wedges first to remove the core so that they cook more quickly.
No. This cherry tomato sauce is not tested for canning. I recommend using a recipe that is specifically made to be canned.
Looking for more summer favorites?
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Herby Cherry Tomato Pasta Sauce
- 6-8 ounces pasta of choice I use fettucine
- 16 ounces cherry tomatoes
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil divided
- 3-4 cloves garlic more to taste
- ½ teaspoon dry oregano see note #1
- ½ teaspoon dry thyme
- ½ teaspoon dry parsley
- ½ teaspoon dry rosemary
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ to ½ cup reserved pasta water see note #2
- ½ cup basil chiffonade (slice thinly)
- shredded Parmesan for topping, optional
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a half sheet pan with parchment paper (optional).
- Cook pasta according to package instructions. Reserve at least ½ cup cooked pasta water before draining.
- Slice garlic cloves into 2-3 pieces. Layer the cherry tomatoes and garlic on the sheet pan. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil and use clean hands to coat.
- Roast cherry tomatoes and garlic at 400F on the middle oven rack for 20 minutes total. After 10 minutes remove the tomatoes from oven and stir around to promote even cooking. Return to the oven for another 10 minutes, or until the cherry tomatoes appear burst and the skins are shrived.
- Place a medium sauce pot over medium heat. Once hot, drizzle in 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add the dry herbs to bloom (oregano, thyme, parsley, rosemary). Cook for 30 seconds to a minute, stirring frequently to prevent burning.
- Add in the cherry tomatoes, garlic and any liquid that collected on the pan, salt and ¼ cup of the basil. Stir to combine. Add in ¼ cup pasta water to thin the sauce. Once simmering, reduce heat to low and let simmer uncovered for 5 minutes. Add remaining ¼ cup pasta water as needed to thin. Taste for salt.
- Serve pasta topped with the cherry tomato sauce, remaining basil, freshly ground black pepper to taste and a sprinkle of Parmesan (optional). Enjoy!
- Herbs: All herbs can be omitted or substituted. You can use 1 and ½ teaspoons fresh chopped herb in place of dry.
- Pasta water: If you're not making pasta you can add water instead. It won't be as silky but it will help thin the sauce.
- Servings: Nutrition facts are calculated using 3 servings. This recipe makes 2-4 servings depending on appetite. The recipe can be doubled or tripled.
- Storage: For best quality, keep refrigerated in a closed container for 3-4 days.