Pasta with Fresh Tomatoes and Garlic

This is one of the easiest Italian pasta dishes I make and I hope you add it to your own list of recipes.  

I call it Pasta with Fresh Tomatoes and Garlic because those are the main ingredients. Brilliant recipe name – I know! The full recipe is below along with a video I made showing how easy it is!

pasta with tomatoes garlic and olive oil on plate

This pasta recipe is so simple anyone can make it.  Not only is it super easy, but it can be ready in less than 20 minutes.

About the tomato sauce

The sauce is a very light sauce that uses 4 main ingredients in Italian cooking-olive oil, garlic and fresh tomatoes. Simply add everything together in a pan except the basil, and cook while the pasta is boiling.

If using any basil in at the end and it will wilt down fairly fast. I talk more about the main ingredients below the recipe so if you need more specifics, it’s there for you.

Ingredients

To make this recipe, all you need are the following ingredients:

  • Pasta. You can use short pasta like penne, or even long pasta. I’ve used all sorts with great success.
  • Roma tomatoes or other as described above. Make sure the tomato variety you buy are meaty, although I’ve also used cherry tomatoes.
  • Fresh garlic. Feel free to increase or decrease the quantity.
  • Extra virgin olive oil. Since the olive oil will be very prominent, it is important that it is a good quality extra virgin one, and try to get First Cold Pressed.
  • Fresh Basil
  • Grated Italian cheese (Romano preferred)

Recipe video

pasta with fresh tomatoes and garlic

Pasta with Fresh Tomato and Garlic

A simple Italian pasta recipe that uses fresh tomatoes, garlic, and olive oil.  One of my favorites and super fast to make!
4.60 from 5 votes
Print Rate
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Italian
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 321kcal

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb short or long thin pasta rigatoni or thin long pasta
  • 12 oz tomatoes
  • 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic
  • Romano grated cheese
  • 1 handful chopped fresh basil optional
  • reserved pasta water

Instructions

  • Bring a large pan of salted water and a small drop of olive oil to a boil.
  • When boiling, add in the pasta and give it a stir.
  • Meanwhile, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat in a large frying pan.
  • When heated, add the garlic and simmer over low heat for 3 minutes making sure not to burn the garlic.
  • Add in the tomatoes and stir to coat the tomatoes with the olive oil.
  • When pasta is done, save some of the pasta water off to the side to use if the pasta is too dry.
  • Drain the pasta and transfer to the tomato and garlic sauce (plus a little of the pasta water) in the frying pan and give it a good stir.
  • if using basil add and let cook down for 1 minute.
  • Serve warm and top with grated Italian Romano or Parmesan Cheese.

Notes

  1. Nutritional facts are estimates based on API calculations.
  2. In the summertime when fresh basil is readily available, toss in a nice big handful of fresh basil a minute or so before you add in the pasta. Make sure to put some fresh basil leaves on the side to make a nice presentation.
  3. This goes great with a simple salad. By simple I mean simple. I love fresh greens tossed with good extra virgin olive oil sprinkled with fresh Italian cheese.
  4. Try to avoid thick pasta shapes because the sauce is a delicate one – not heavy.

Nutrition

Calories: 321kcal | Carbohydrates: 46g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Sodium: 8mg | Potassium: 334mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 709IU | Vitamin C: 12mg | Calcium: 23mg | Iron: 1mg

What type of tomatoes to use

Pasta with roma tomatoes

Although using small tomatoes like cherry or grape works great and I used them in my video above, you can also choose to use larger tomatoes, I’d recommend varieties that are meaty in nature, such as Roma tomatoes.  

Roma tomatoes are mid-size long tomatoes about 3 inches in length. They are often used for sauces because they are not watery, but have thicker pulp and tomato ‘meat’ inside.

This allows for more pieces of tomato which is what we want when topping the pasta with the Roma tomatoes.

About the garlic

pasta fresh tomatoes basil garlic
Use fresh garlic with fresh tomatoes and pasta.

Any variety of garlic will do for this recipe, but it needs to be fresh garlic. Avoid mincing or dicing the garlic cloves.

Instead we want to slice the garlic cloves thinly, allowing the flavor to gently diffuse in the sauce.

My mother-in-law gave me a good tip about using sliced garlic in recipes saying that this is a good practice especially when you have guests who may not enjoy a strong garlic flavor. They can avoid eating the garlic but will appreciate the hint of garlic mixed with the olive oil, tomatoes, and basil, if used.

About the olive oil

It’s important to use an extra virgin olive oil that is of good quality. Look for ones that are labeled first cold pressed. This is a stronger flavor. The oil can make or break the recipe.

If using basil

If you have access to fresh basil, go ahead and use it. The fresh basil really helps add another layer of freshness.

Do not use dried basil. That will not work.

However, if your fresh basil isn’t growing yet, or it’s out of season, hopefully you followed my instructions for freezing basil in ice cube trays for purposes like this.

You can also learn how to grow fresh basil all year indoors so it’s always readily available to add to these type of pasta and tomato dishes.

About the type of pasta

I used to only use short pasta because I think it goes further.  Of course, don’t use elbow macaroni.  I’ve used bow ties, rigatoni, penne, mini-penne, etc.

However, I frequently use angel hair or capellini pasta which are the thin variety of long pasta. The reason I recommend these long pastas is because their texture and weight are better suited for such a delicate sauce.

Step by step instructions

Step 1. Start by heating up a large pan of water. Add in a dash of salt and a drop of olive oil. The olive oil helps the pasta not stick together since we’re not using a typical heavier marinara sauce.

Step 2. Meanwhile, start preparing the ingredients by chopping the tomatoes in bite size chunks. Set in a strainer over a bowl to let the excess liquid drain. We want some liquid, so don’t worry about removing all the tomato juice. This is needed more for tomatoes that have a high water content.

Step 3. The water is probably boiling now, so add in the pasta and give it a quick stir to help avoid any initial sticking.

Step 4. In a large frying or saute pan, heat the olive oil over low-medium heat. Meanwhile, slice the garlic cloves into thin strips and add to the olive oil. Give a small stir so the garlic gets coated with the oil.

Step 5. Next, add in the fresh tomatoes and stir again so everything is coated with the olive oil. The tomatoes will cook down some and that is fine. You do not need to cover the pan.

Step 6. Let the tomatoes get heated through and reduce to a low simmer. We don’t want the sauce to dry out. This is why it’s okay to include some of the tomato juice.

Step 7. Lastly, add in the basil which should be sliced. Of course if using the frozen basil, it won’t be. That’s okay. You can also even wait till you serve the pasta to top it with the fresh basil.

You want to avoid cooking the basil down too much to where it loses it’s brightness.

PRO TIP: Before draining the pasta, reserve about a cup of the pasta water in case it is needed if the tomatoes, garlic and olive oil sauce dries out a little. Just add a dash if needed.

Drain the pasta and add to the sauce pan and toss to coat it thoroughly. Serve warm and top with cheese.

Suitable side dish ideas

Considering that this is mainly a summer recipe, choose side dishes that are light and will compliment the starchy pasta. Using similar ingredients such as tomatoes and olive oil will help to bring a cohesiveness to the meal.

Here are some ideas that you can use.

Other similar pasta recipes

pasta with asparagus and peas

Pasta with asparagus and peas is also just as simple to make except it uses a light alfredo sauce and green veggies.

pasta with asparagus and lemon

Pasta with asparagus and lemon uses a delicate light white sauce with lemon and asparagus. It’s perfect for a light and refreshing dish!

I hope you enjoy the recipe for pasta with fresh tomatoes and garlic.

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If you enjoyed this recipe, you may also enjoy these other ones too!

Thanks for visiting and I hope you enjoy my recipe for pasta with fresh tomato garlic sauce!

Ciao Friend! I’d like to send you my FREE mini-digital cookbook featuring 5 Creative & Easy Italian Pasta Recipes. Plus, you’ll receive easy and delicious Italian recipes every week.

If you want in, just sign up using this form! I’d love to start sharing my recipes with you!

Original post written Sept. 5, 2016. Updated January 28th, 2023.

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Pasta with Fresh Tomatoes and Garlic

4 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    love this recipe,,,usually make it on Friday’s during Lent….I use fresh basil from my garden just before serving…..

  2. Hi Irene, I would use a white wine for an oil-based sauce. But honestly it comes down to personal preference. Sometimes I’m in the mood for a merlot regardless of what’s on my plate. 🙂

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