Tomato Basil Pasta is a quick and easy recipe made with tender penne pasta and juicy grape tomatoes. Perfect for lunch or dinner and ready in just 20 minutes, it’s a delicious meal that the whole family will love.
Penne pasta is my favorite pasta to cook with. It’s hearty, it’s rustic and there is no twirling required. It hold it’s own against some pretty delicious sauces, like this creamy garlic sauce, and it’s amazing in this Tomato Basil Pasta recipe. It’s also easy to pick up out of the pot with your fingers if that’s how you like to do things. No judgement here.
The best, and my personal favorite, penne pasta recipe is this Tomato Basil Penne Pasta. There is no cream or butter, so you can feel good about eating the whole pan. I mean, about eating your portion. It’s super fresh, with a whole pint of sweet tomatoes and loads of fresh basil and garlic. Let’s get cooking, shall we?
How to Make Tomato Basil Pasta
This pasta recipe starts as most good pasta recipes do – cooking the pasta just right! Bring some water to a boil, then salt it generously. I usually toss in a few good pinches. Measure out about 3 cups of the dry pasta. This doesn’t have to be an exact science, so a little more or a little less won’t hurt. You don’t want the pasta to be cooked all the way, so set your timer for a couple of minutes less than the package calls for. It will finish cooking in the sauce you’re about the make.
Once the pasta is boiling, start on the sauce. Heat some olive oil and saute diced onions and garlic and a little red pepper flakes for heat. Next add the grape tomatoes that have been sliced in half and a handful of chopped basil. The tomatoes will release juices to help create the sauce. After a minute or two the tomatoes will start to blister; at this point you’ll add a ladle-ful of the pasta water straight outta the pot (that’s about 3/4-1 cup of pasta water). The starch that’s released from the pasta as it cooks will help to thicken the tomato basil sauce.
Boil the sauce for a minute or two, then add the pasta. If you time it just right, the pasta will be about 3/4 of the way done at this point, but if the pasta is ready sooner, just drain it and set it aside until you’re ready to add it; shouldn’t be more that a couple of minutes.
Once the pasta is added you’ll just continue to let the tomato basil pasta simmer over medium-low heat. The pasta will finish cooking and become nice and tender, with a delicious tomato basil flavor. The tomatoes combined with the garlic, onion and the pasta water will have created a yummy sauce that’s smooth and luxurious and thick enough to coat the penne pasta. The finishing touch is a bit of Parmesan cheese that you can stir in, or just garnish the top with. Make sure to test the seasonings and add more salt and pepper if you like.
Here are some more delicious pasta recipes to try:
- Penne Pasta Primavera
- Classic Pasta Carbonara
- Creamy Cajun Chicken Pasta
- Lemon Garlic Chicken and Vegetable Pasta
Tomato Basil Pasta Recipe:
Tomato Basil Penne Pasta
- 12 ounces penne pasta
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ cup diced onion
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 pint grape tomatoes sliced in half
- 6-8 leaves fresh basil sliced into thin strips (chiffonade), plus some for garnish
- Salt & pepper
- 1/4 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese plus some for garnish
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the penne pasta and cook, until about three-quarters of the way done (2 minutes under what's called for on the package.
- Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the diced onion and cook until soft; about 3 minutes. Stir in red pepper flakes and garlic and cook for 1 minutes before adding the tomatoes and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook until the tomatoes just begin to blister, about 2 minutes. Add a ladle full of the pasta water (about ¾-1 cup) and the chopped basil to the tomatoes.
- Add the pasta to the saute pan and bring to a boil. The liquid will reduce as the pasta finishes to form a sauce; 3-4 minutes. Stir in 1/3 cup fresh grated Parmesan.
- Season with salt and garnish with fresh grated Parmesan cheese.