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The bright flavors of summer inspired this delicious, quick and simple Fresh Grape Tomato Pasta recipe, although it is great all year round! Fresh grape tomatoes are quickly sautéed in olive oil with copious amounts of garlic, then finished with your favorite pasta and lots of fresh basil and Pecorino Romano cheese. It will be you new weeknight favorite—mamma mia!
Fresh Grape Tomato Pasta is one of the most simple and quick pasta dishes out there. Make it in a pinch on a random weeknight or anytime you have a pasta craving and need to prepare something quickly. In fact, this dish can be made in the time it takes to boil the pasta water and cook the pasta!
Since grape tomatoes are typically super-sweet and delicious year-round, they are a great option for this dish. Combine the tomatoes with fresh basil and you will immediately experience the essence of summer, regardless of what season it is!
And, this Fresh Grape Tomato Pasta can be made with any pasta shape – long or short. Take your pick!
Something to Note . . .
I wanted to point out that, even though there is no meat or fish in this dish, it is not technically vegetarian because of the addition of the pecorino cheese. Real Pecorino Romano cheese must be made with lamb rennet paste and is, therefore, not vegetarian. However, this dish can easily be made vegetarian-friendly by leaving out the pecorino or using a vegetarian alternative.
To make this Fresh Grape Tomato Pasta, we will be using the following ingredients:
- Tomatoes: I used grape tomatoes in this recipe as I love their year-round sweetness. Cherry tomatoes also work really well.
- Pasta: : I used spaghetti here, but this recipe works really well with all types of long and short pasta shapes.
- Pecorino Romano Cheese: Adds sharpness and saltiness – in a really, really good way!
The Aromatics . . .
- Fresh Basil: A key ingredient in this dish! Use lots of it, both during the sautéing step and folded in to the finished pasta.
- Garlic: No explanation necessary! Other than to say, chopped, minced or thinly sliced all work well – just depends on what you feel like doing! And, feel free to add more or use less based on your personal preferance.
- Olive Oil: I used olive oil in two different ways in this recipe. First, to sauté the garlic and tomatoes. For this step, there’s no need to use your most expensive bottle. And, second, (and how I finish many of my pasta recipes) is as a drizzle on the pasta at the very end of the cooking process and just before serving. For this, you want to use the really good, extra-virgin olive oil that adds a complementary flavor to the dish, be it fruity, peppery or grassy.
- Salt: So, salt is a super-interesting ingredient and topic for me.
- These days, there are limitless varieties and textures of the stuff available from both the mountains and the sea all over the world. (And, I have about a dozen of those varieties right now in my pantry . . .) Believe it or not, they do vary in levels of saltiness!
- So, having said this, all of the amounts of salt that I present here and in all of my recipes should be taken with a grain of you-know-what! But, seriously, the amount of salt in one’s dish is a highly personal preference. And, nothing can ruin a great dish like over-salting it.
- So, my suggestion is to salt, taste, salt, taste, etc. until you are satisfied.
- Black Pepper: Always to your taste and always freshly ground black pepper, if possible!
A complete and detailed list of ingredients with amounts and instructions is included in the recipe below.
Step-By-Step, Pro-Tips included!
Here are the main steps for how to make this Fresh Grape Tomato Pasta:
- Prep and measure all ingredients. Be sure to rinse all vegetables before using.
- Get the pasta water ready.
- PRO-TIP: Don’t skimp on the water! Use a large (7 to 8 quart) pot with 6 quarts water for 1 pound of pasta. And, bring the water to a boil before adding the salt. The water will boil a little more strongly for a second when you do so, and this will ensure that the salt is dissolved immediately. If you add the salt to the pot when the water is cold, it may just deposit on the bottom of the pot. Use 1 1/2 to 2 Tbsp salt, depending on which type used. (See comment in RECIPE INGREDIENTS above.)
- Sauté the garlic, then add the tomatoes.
- PRO-TIP: Combine the garlic and the oil in the pan at the same time, then slowly bring the temperature up. This will allow you to have more control over the garlic and help prevent it from burning, which is what generally happens when garlic is added to very hot oil.
- Cook the pasta most of the way (until about 2 minutes less than the package directions), then add it to the pan with some pasta water to finish cooking.
- Finish by folding in the basil, pecorino cheese, salt and black pepper.
- PRO-TIP: Turn the heat off before adding the cheese to the pan, to prevent sticking and clumping.
- PRO-TIP: Once the cheese is added to the pasta, toss it quickly and vigorously so that the cheese will emulsify into the sauce, creating a uniform, smooth texture.
- Serve it warm with additional fresh basil leaves and an extra drizzle of high-quality extra virgin olive oil.
Recipe Variations for this Fresh Grape Tomato Pasta
This dish is pretty delicious as is, but there is always more than one way to make something. Here are a few ideas:
- Add a Protein: Italian sausage, shrimp and canned tuna in olive oil are all great options.
- Make it Whole Grain or Gluten-Free: Just switch out the traditional pasta for a whole wheat or gluten-free pasta.
- Add Some Heat! Add a pinch of peperoncino (crushed red pepper) when sautéing the garlic.
- Try a Different Cheese: Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano are both great alternatives to the Pecorino Romano.
What to Serve with Fresh Grape Tomato Pasta
This is a hearty enough pasta to be a main course for sure. But, in small portions, it can be a Starter or ‘primi piatto’.
If you are serving this as a main course, I suggest a light antipasti of prosciutto di parma with melon or assorted salumi. Then, follow the meal with a light green salad with red wine vinaigrette. Dessert should be light – perhaps biscotti and coffee, mixed fruit, or lemon sorbet.
Kitchen Tools & Cookware for Grape Tomato Pasta
To make this Fresh Grape Tomato Pasta recipe, you will need the following:
- Cutting board with non-slip mat underneath (I use shelf liner)
- Sharp chef’s knife
- Measuring cups and spoons
- Multiple bowls to hold prep
- Garlic press
- Large (6 to 8 qt) pot for cooking pasta
- Colander, large mesh strainer or spider for scooping out or draining pasta
- Wooden or silicon spoons, tongs
- Dutch oven
- 10″+ sauté pan or skillet
- Cheese grater
- Large spoon
- Large serving bowl or platter and serving utensils
More Great Recipes to Try
If you’ve tried this recipe or any other recipe on the blog, please let me know how it went in the comments below — I love hearing from you!
Fresh Grape Tomato Pasta
- 2 heaping Tbsp chopped or thinly sliced garlic
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus additional for finishing
- 2 pints grape or cherry tomatoes, sliced in ½ lengthwise (about 1 ½ pounds)
- 1 large handful fresh basil, stemmed and chopped or hand-torn, divided
- salt for pasta water (see NOTE below)
- 1 pound uncooked pasta (I used spaghetti)
- 1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
- To taste salt and black pepper
- Prep all ingredients according to specifications above.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Once the water comes to a boil, add salt, then the pasta, stirring frequently. Cook the pasta for 2 minutes less than the package directions, or about 2 minutes before you think it is al dente. (Be sure to reserve at least 1 cup of the starchy pasta water.)
- Meanwhile, while the pasta is cooking, combine the garlic and olive oil in a large skillet or Dutch oven and heat on medium-low. Sauté for 3 to 4 minutes or until lightly golden, then add the tomatoes and about ¼ the basil to pan and sauté another 2 to 3 minutes, until they begin to break down a bit.
- When the pasta is ready, transfer it to the skillet along with about ½ cup of the starchy pasta water (to start). Stir well to fully combine all ingredients and let the pasta finish cooking in the sauce and absorb all of those wonderful flavors! Add the additional pasta water if more moisture is needed.
- When the pasta is al dente, turn off the heat, then fold in the pecorino and basil, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Finish with a healthy drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.
- Serve with additional fresh basil. Buon Appetito!
- Use a large (7 to 8 quart) pot with 6 quarts water for 1 pound of pasta. Bring the water to a boil before adding the salt. Use 1 1/2 to 2 Tbsp salt, depending on which type used. (See comment in RECIPE INGREDIENTS above.)
- Combine the garlic and the oil in the pan at the same time, then slowly bring the temperature up. This prevents the garlic from burning.
- The pasta water is key! Add it to the sauce along with the pasta for the additional moisture needed to finish cooking the pasta.
- Turn the heat off before adding the grated cheese. Toss the cheese into the pasta very well and vigorously so that the cheese emulsifies into the sauce.
- Don’t forget to drizzle the finished dish with some high quality extra-virgin olive oil for an additional hit of flavor and richness.