Burst Tomato Pasta

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This quick & simple Burst Tomato Pasta is the perfect easy weeknight dinner! It starts with a fast & fresh tomato sauce made by simmering peak-season cherry tomatoes in olive oil with garlic & basil. The tomatoes quickly burst open with the high heat of the stovetop, releasing their sweet juices to create a beautiful sauce. Toss the burst cherry tomato sauce with your favorite long pasta, shower with parmesan cheese, & dig right in. A celebration of late-summer flavors, made with only 8 simple ingredients in 25 minutes or less!

Naturally meatless. Easily vegetarian or vegan.

An overhead shot of a serving of burst tomato pasta in an orange bowl atop a burnt orange cloth on an off-white textured surface.
Juicy-sweet cherry tomatoes are the star of this simple pasta dish – it’s made with 8 ingredients & comes together in 25 minutes or less!

A 25-Minute Pasta Bursting with Fresh Flavor!

Tomatoes are one of the my favorite ingredients to rely on for easy summer dinners. Not only are they overflowing from the garden this time of year, their juicy sweetness is also so simply irresistible! And while it’s always fun to turn the end-of-summer harvest into Bruschetta or a beautiful Tomato Salad, I really love letting them shine in a satisfying, seasonal main dish like this Burst Tomato Pasta.

You’ll love that this pasta dish is quick-cooking & involves very little prep. It all centers around a 25-minute burst cherry tomato sauce, which is something of a halfway point between the freshness of our viral Marinated Tomato Pasta & the heartiness of a slowly simmered marinara. It’s perfectly suited for summer & so simple to make! You add the tomatoes to a pan with good olive oil, a few sprigs of basil, & a whole lotta garlic, & as it all heats together on the stovetop, the tomatoes burst open, releasing their sweet juices to create a light & aromatic tomato sauce with the infused olive oil.

From there, just toss the burst cherry tomato pasta sauce with whatever pasta you love (a little extra parmesan & basil never hurts either! 😉) for an 8-ingredient, 25-minute dinner with the best fresh flavor –  just the kind of meal you want on a busy summer night!

Burst Cherry Tomato Pasta Recipe Highlights

You will love this bursting tomato pasta! It’s…

SUPER FRESH. This quick-cooking burst cherry tomato sauce is made by simmering the tomatoes with olive oil, garlic, & basil until they burst open. As they burst, they release their juicy-sweetness into the infused olive oil, creating a light & fresh-tasting tomato sauce that begs to be tossed into pasta. This recipe uses 2 whole pints of cherry tomatoes, so it’s perfect for whenever your summer garden or CSA basket is overflowing!

NATURALLY MEATLESS, plus easily vegetarian or vegan with a rennet-free or dairy-free cheese. It’s the perfect dinner to enjoy on Meatless Monday or any other night of the week!

A LOW-EFFORT DINNER. You only need 8 in-season ingredients & 25 minutes to make a restaurant-worthy burst cherry tomato pasta. An ideal meal for warm & busy weeknights or an impromptu dinner party with friends. Trust me, you’re going to want to make this one again & again!

The ultimate summer dinner! ♡ Read on to learn more about how to make Burst Tomato Pasta, or jump straight to the recipe & get cooking!

Key Ingredients

The best pasta dishes rely on in-season & high-quality ingredients to create a ton of craveable flavor, & this burst cherry tomato pasta recipe is no exception. It comes together with 8 simple ingredients – most of which are probably already in your pantry or summer garden!

Note: Full ingredients list & measurements provided in the Recipe Card, below.

  • Pasta – When it comes to pasta, DeLallo is forever my fave. Imported from Italy, DeLallo pasta is made by kneading high-gluten durum wheat with cold mountain spring water, then it’s slowly dried at a low temp to create the absolute best texture. I love the twirl & bouncy texture of fusilli col buco – it’s kind of like a marriage of spirally fusilli & tubular bucatini – but you can use whatever noodles you love most. Spaghetti, fettuccine, & rigatoni are all great, too!
  • Cherry tomatoes – Summer’s little superstars! We love to mix & match colors & sizes for the burst tomato pasta sauce. This dish is all about tomatoes, so we highly recommend using the freshest you can find. Tomatoes from your garden or local farmer’s market are ideal!
  • Olive oil – Since the burst cherry tomato sauce is a quick-cooking sauce made with minimal ingredients, it’s best to use high quality olive oil here. DeLallo’s Extra Virgin Olive Oil is my longtime go-to – it’s made from cold-pressed 100% Italian olives & you can definitely taste the difference in its rich, robust flavor!
  • Aromatics – A few sprigs of fresh basil & a ton of very thinly sliced garlic perfume the olive oil as the cherry tomatoes simmer, infusing the sauce with even more summery flavor. If you like a little kick of heat, add crushed red pepper flakes into the mix!
  • Finishing touches – Similar to our Marinated Tomato Pasta, a quick squeeze of fresh lemon juice brings the bright sweetness of the burst cherry tomatoes to life, while a sprinkle of shaved parmesan or pecorino layers the dish with rich pops of flavor. Use a rennet-free variety to make this dish vegetarian or a non-dairy cheese to keep it vegan.
Ingredient Spotlight

Cherry Tomatoes vs. Grape Tomatoes

Cherry & grape tomatoes are both bite-sized varieties bursting off the vine during the summer. But what’s the difference, exactly? It’s mostly about their size!

  • Cherry tomatoes are round, juicy, & sweet with thin skins. Their high water content gives them their signature “pop!” when you take a bite. You can find cherry tomatoes in red, yellow, & orange varieties.
  • Grape tomatoes are more oblong & about half the size of cherry tomatoes. They also have thicker skin & meatier flesh, which makes them stand up really well in salads, grain bowls, & pasta salads.

Both cherry & grape tomatoes are a highlight of summer! Which one you use just depends on what you’re making.

So are grape or cherry tomatoes better for pasta sauce? ⇢ We’re using cherry tomatoes here because they give the best “pop” for a bursting tomato pasta. Cherry tomatoes’ thin skins burst open easily & without being quite as toothsome as grape tomatoes. Plus, their extra-juicy water content helps create an especially light & fresh-tasting sauce.

How to Cook Burst Tomato Pasta

My favorite thing about this recipe is that it’s seriously quick & simple to make. It all centers around the burst tomato sauce, a light & fresh tomato sauce that’s something of a halfway point between our popular Marinated Tomato Pasta & a slowly simmered marinara. It’s especially well-suited for summer & remarkably low-effort – ready in 25 minutes or less & the stove does most of the work!

Full Recipe Directions, including step-by-step photos, are included in the Recipe Card, below.

1

Cook the pasta. Drop your pasta of choice into a large pot of boiling salted water & cook until it’s tender with a nice bite. Al dente cooking time is typically indicated on package instructions. Once it’s cooked, drain the pasta but do not rinse. Learn more! How to Cook Pasta Perfectly Every Single Time!

2

Burst the tomatoes & build the sauce. Place the cherry tomatoes in a large skillet with olive oil, thinly sliced garlic, & whole basil sprigs. Heat on the stove over medium-low until the tomatoes begin to soften – this takes about 10 minutes, don’t rush it! Once the tomatoes get really soft & juicy, gently press on them with a spoon until they burst open. Why do tomatoes burst? ⇢ The heat of the stovetop causes the tomatoes’ moisture to expand & push through their delicate skins – literally bursting at the seams. All that juicy-sweet goodness creates the best fresh tomato sauce!

3

Toss it all together. Toss cooked pasta into the burst tomato pasta sauce with sliced basil & lemon juice. Let everything simmer together for a few minutes on the stovetop, adding a splash of reserved starchy pasta water as needed to loosen things up. Why? ⇢ Cooking pasta with the sauce is the key to a cohesive, restaurant-quality burst tomato pasta dish!

An overhead shot of a large white platter full of burst tomato pasta. The platter sits upon a burnt orange cloth atop an off-white surface.

Serving Suggestions

Once simmered, simply transfer the burst tomato pasta to your favorite bowls & enjoy. I like to shower each portion with some extra shaved parmesan & leafy basil from my garden, though other fresh herbs like parsley, thyme, & oregano are beautiful finishing touches, too.

This meatless pasta dish is delicious all on its own, especially on a hot summer evening. If you want to make it a bit heartier, try serving your burst tomato pasta with…

Planning a dinner party? ⇢ For a full-on summer feast, add to your menu a simple green salad tossed with aged balsamic vinegar or our go-to tangy All-Purpose Vinaigrette & finish the meal with a round of cool & bubbly Sgroppino. Easy, effortless, fresh, & light – the perfect summer meal! 🙌🏼

A close-up overhead shot of a white oval platter of burst tomato pasta garnished with basil leaves and shaved parmesan.

I can’t wait for you to try this Burst Tomato Pasta recipe! It’s quick, simple, & tastes just like summertime – what’s better than that?!

If you do give it a try, be sure to let us know! Leave a comment with a star rating below. You can also snap a photo & tag @playswellwithbutter on Instagram. We LOVE seeing your PWWB creations! ♡ Happy cooking!

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A macro close-up shot of burst tomato pasta in an orange bowl.

Quick & Easy Burst Tomato Pasta (8 Simple Ingredients)

  • Author: Jess Larson
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: serves 4
  • Category: Pasta Recipes, Main Dishes
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Italian
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Description

This quick & simple Burst Tomato Pasta is a celebration of summer tomatoes! It’s a low-fuss dinner that comes together in 25 minutes or less – perfect to make whenever your garden or CSA basket is overflowing with tomatoes.

The magic of this recipe comes from the quick-cooking burst cherry tomato sauce, which is so easy to prepare. You add the tomatoes to a pan with good olive oil, a few sprigs of basil, & a whole lotta garlic, & as it all heats together on the stovetop, the tomatoes burst open & release their sweet juices into the infused olive oil. The result is a light & aromatic sauce that’s something of a halfway point between a marinated tomato sauce & a slowly simmered marinara. It’s perfectly suited for summer & the stove does all the work!

From there, just toss in your pasta of choice & serve with lots of fresh basil & shaved parmesan. On its own, this bursting cherry tomato pasta a great light, meatless dinner, but feel free to pair it with chicken cutlets or meatballs if you’d like to bulk it up a bit – check out the blog post, above, for some suggestions to get you started!


Ingredients

Scale
  • 12 ounces fusilli col buco or long pasta of choice
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 32 ounces cherry tomatoes
  • 8 cloves garlic, very thinly sliced
  • 2 whole sprigs + ½ cup fresh basil leaves (packed & finely sliced), divided
  • optional: up to ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • ½ lemon, juiced (approx. 2 tablespoons)
  • ½ cup shaved parmesan
  • kosher salt & ground black pepper, to season

Instructions

  1. Boil the pasta: Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Once boiling, generously season the water with salt. Add the fusilli col buco (or pasta of choice) & cook, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, to al dente. (Al dente cooking time is typically noted on package directions.) Once the pasta reaches al dente, carefully dip a liquid measuring cup into the pot, reserving about 1 cup of starchy pasta water, & set aside. Drain the pasta – but do not rinse – & set aside. (Learn more! How to Cook Pasta Perfectly Every Single Time!)An overhead shot of cooked fusilli pasta in a Dutch oven sitting atop an off-white surface.
  2. Prepare the burst tomatoes: Meanwhile, as the water boils & pasta cooks, prepare the burst tomato sauce. To a large skillet over medium-low heat, add the olive oil, tomatoes, sliced garlic, & 2 sprigs of whole basil. Season with ½ teaspoon kosher salt, ground black pepper, & crushed red pepper flakes as desired. Stir to combine well, coating in the olive oil. Cook 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes soften. Once softened, use the back of a wooden spoon to gently press the tomatoes against the surface of the pan, helping them to burst open. Stirring often, continue to cook 3-5 minutes longer or until the burst tomato sauce is as reduced as you like. Fish out the spent basil sprigs & discard.
  3. Finish the burst tomato pasta: Add the cooked pasta to the skillet, along with the sliced basil & lemon juice. Toss to combine well – the burst tomato sauce should evenly coat the pasta. Adjust as desired – add in some of the reserved pasta water if the sauce needs to loosen up a little; increase to medium heat or medium-high heat if sauce needs to reduce & tighten up a bit. Cook 1-2 minutes longer, allowing the pasta to meld with the burst tomato sauce. Remove from the heat & toss in the shaved parmesan.An overhead shot of finished burst tomato pasta with a wooden spoon in a skillet atop an off-white surface.
  4. Serve: Portion the burst tomato pasta into individual bowls, topping with additional shaved parmesan or chopped fresh herbs as desired. Serve immediately. Enjoy!An overhead shot of a large white platter full of burst tomato pasta. The platter sits upon a burnt orange cloth atop an off-white surface.

Notes

  • Recipe variations: This burst tomato pasta recipe is naturally meatless. To ensure it’s vegetarian, be sure to use your favorite rennet-free parmesan. To take it a step further & make it vegan, opt for your favorite non-dairy parmesan.
  • Storage & Reheating: Leftover burst tomato pasta will keep, stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, for 2-3 days. Reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave, adding an extra splash of water or cooking stock to loosen up the brown butter sauce as needed, until warmed through.

Recipe and Food Styling by Jess Larson, Plays Well With Butter | Photography by Rachel Cook, Half Acre House.

Follow along with Plays Well With Butter on Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, and Pinterest for more unfussy recipes that pack a big punch of flavor!

Hi there, I'm Jess!

If there’s 1 thing to know about me, it’s this: I am head-over-heels in love with food. I’m on a mission to make weeknight cooking flavorful, fast, & fun for other foodies, & PWWB is where I share foolproof recipes that deliver major flavor with minimal effort. Other true loves: pretty shoes, puppies, Grey’s Anatomy, & my cozy kitchen in Minneapolis, MN.

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Comments

  1. 9.1.23
    Sara said:

    So fresh and simple. The perfect use for all the garden tomatoes that are ripening right now.
    Used a potato masher to quickly smash the tomatoes and it worked great.

    • 9.1.23
      Emma @ Plays Well With Butter said:

      This pasta is DEFINITELY perfect for using up garden tomatoes! A potato masher is a great idea, too. Happy to hear you enjoyed the pasta, Sara!

  2. 8.25.23
    Chris W. said:

    This is so the perfect time of year for this recipe – when tomatoes and basil abound! Cherry tomatoes are the best as far as I’m concerned and we grow them in abundance. And my basil this year is going crazy! Will be putting this on this coming week’s menu.

    • 8.25.23
      Emma @ Plays Well With Butter said:

      It’s absolutely the best time of year for this recipe, and garden tomatoes & basil are the absolute BEST! Can’t wait to hear what you think of the pasta!