This cherry tomato pasta recipe is perfect for a weeknight dinner—especially when time is short or it’s too hot to stand over a stove for long. While it highlights summer flavors, this easy pasta dish is actually wonderful all year long. Good cherry and grape tomatoes are available year-round thanks to the fact that they ripen in less time than larger tomatoes and are also easy to grow in hothouses (and in warmer climates) in the winter. This recipe takes full advantage of their juicy sweetness and acidic pop. While your pasta is cooking, you’ll heat a little extra virgin olive oil in a large skillet and cook the tomatoes quickly over high heat with nothing more than a pinch of sugar, black pepper, and some garlic (if you’d like a little more heat, a bit of crushed red pepper flakes would also fit in well). By the time the noodles are done, the tomatoes will have softened and split, and their sweet-tart juices will have coalesced into a light pasta sauce. Reserve some of the starchy pasta water and add it to the skillet bit by bit to give the sauce a little more body, if you’d like Garnish with fresh basil leaves and Parmesan (ideally grated right over each serving with a convenient Microplane), and dinner is ready. In fact, the most time-consuming part of the entire meal is waiting for the water to boil!
Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente; drain pasta and transfer to a large bowl.
Meanwhile, heat oil in a 12” skillet or wide heavy saucepan over medium-high. Add garlic, then tomatoes, pepper, sugar, and 1 tsp. salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes burst and release their juices to form a sauce, 6–8 minutes.
Toss pasta with tomato sauce and basil. Top with Parmesan.
Juicy and sweet cherry tomatoes burst open in warm olive oil, creating a luxuriously silky sauce that comes together in minutes.