This Summer Pasta with basil and cherry tomatoes is bursting with fresh-from-the-garden flavor! It’s a quick and easy dinner that’s light, but still satisfying. Recipe includes a how-to video!
An Effortless Summer Dinner
Looking for a way to use up garden veggies? I have the tastiest solution for you! This recipe is super easy and *perfect* for using up fresh produce (especially cherry tomatoes!). It comes together quickly on the stove and is ideal for hot summer nights when you’re craving pasta but don’t want to feel weighed down after eating.
You’ll love how the cherry tomato sauce has a light texture and bright flavor. It’s not at all like a heavy marinara sauce; instead, it’s a thin and sheer olive oil-based sauce that’s extremely fresh and bursting with Italian-inspired ingredients. Serve it up with some crusty bread, bruschetta, or breadsticks and a salad for a vibrant and satisfying summer dinner!
You’ll love this summer pasta because it’s:
- Filling, but not heavy or rich.
- Great for using up summer garden veggies like cherry tomatoes, sweet onions, and basil!
- Quick; it comes together in under an hour.
- Easily customized for any diet; top with your choice of meat, use a gluten-free pasta, substitute vegan cheese, etc.
What You Need
This summer pasta is so simple, yet the flavors are incredibly vibrant. Here are the key ingredients:
- Cherry tomatoes. If you have tomatoes growing in your own garden or can find some locally at a farmer’s market–use them! These will have the best flavor compared to grocery store tomatoes. Other varieties will work, but cherry tomatoes are really the best choice for their thin skin and sweet, juicy interiors.
- Fresh basil. Fresh basil adds a slightly sweet and peppery flavor. It’s an absolute must for this dish and helps to make it a true summer pasta!
- Extra virgin olive oil. I really recommend splurging for extra virgin olive oil for this recipe; it adds a beautiful depth of flavor to the pasta.
- Sugar. I like to add a pinch (ok more than a pinch) of sugar to neutralize any acidity from the tomatoes and enhance the flavors of the dish even more. You can always leave it out though!
SAM’S TIP: Remember to save your pasta water! The starches from the pasta tie everything together to create a silky, light sauce. Plain water just won’t work the same.
Remember, this is just an overview of the ingredients I used and why. For the full recipe please scroll down to the bottom of the post!
How to Make Easy Summer Pasta
- Cook your pasta according to package directions.
- Reserve ½ cup of pasta water before draining the pasta and setting it aside.
- Cook the chopped onion in olive oil until it softens.
- Add the garlic and cook until fragrant.
- Add the tomatoes, sugar, and spices and cook until the tomatoes soften.
- Add the chopped basil and stir until incorporated.
- Add the pasta and a few splashes of pasta water until the sauce coats the noodles.
- Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the parmesan cheese, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
SAM’S TIP: I like to add some additional fresh basil leaves on top for a pretty appearance, since the basil stirred into the dish wilts. This is totally optional, but it does look nice when serving!
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, it is! If you’d like to make a vegan version, feel free to use a vegan pasta and a vegan parmesan substitute.
Absolutely! Top your pasta with some seared or grilled chicken for a heartier, more filling meal (a bit lighter than my creamy chicken pasta). You can also serve this summer pasta with shrimp!
I prefer to serve this pasta with a longer noodle, like linguine, spaghetti, or capellini. You can really use whatever you have on hand or prefer. Bucatini would be great too!
If your summer garden also includes zucchini, give my zucchini bread a try!
Let’s bake together! I’ll be walking you through all the steps in my written recipe and video below! If you try this recipe, be sure to tag me on Instagram, and you can also find me on YouTube and Facebook
Easy Summer Pasta (use up those garden veggies)
- 8 oz linguine pasta or preferred noodle pasta, uncooked (226g)
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil (60ml)
- 1 cup finely chopped onion sweet, yellow, or white onion, I like sweet (about ½ large onion/110g)
- 6 large cloves garlic thinly sliced
- 24 oz cherry tomatoes about 6 cups (680g)
- ½ teaspoon granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon table salt plus additional for cooking pasta and to taste/as needed
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ¼ heaping teaspoon dried thyme
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 1 oz fresh basil leaves shredded or cut into ribbons (about ⅓ cup/28g)
- ⅓ cup freshly grated or shredded parmesan cheese plus more for topping
- Large skillet
- Medium-sized pot
- Cook pasta in well-salted water according to package instructions. Before draining, reserve ½ cup of pasta water and set aside.
- Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat until shimmering.
- Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, then add garlic and cook about 30-60 seconds longer, until fragrant.
- Add tomatoes, sugar, salt, pepper, thyme, and red pepper and cook, stirring frequently until tomatoes soften and burst. Once tomatoes are soft enough you can use a wooden spoon or spatula to squish them as you stir.
- Add basil and stir.
- Add warm cooked, drained linguine and stir well. Add splashes of pasta water as needed to make a thin sauce, you basically want to ensure the pasta is not dry and the noodles are coated with a thin layer of the sauce. I typically need to add about ¼ cup of the pasta water.
- Remove from heat, add parmesan and stir well. Taste-test and add additional salt or pepper as needed, then serve warm topped with additional parmesan as desired with a side salad or side of crusty bread.
Nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered an estimate only. Actual nutritional content will vary based upon brands used, measuring methods, cooking method, portion sizes, and more.