This 20 Minute Cherry Tomato and Basil Angel Hair Pasta comes together in a jiffy, and will satisfy the whole family, even the kids!
Once the warmer months come around, I’m immediately drawn to a simpler way of cooking – lighter, healthier meals, fresh ingredients, less ingredients, and just an all around relaxed attitude. I don’t like anything too fussy or involved, and this 20 Minute Cherry Tomato and Basil Angel Hair pasta is the perfect example of what you might find on our dinner table in the summertime.
I’ve made a variation of this sauce for years – ever since I studied abroad in Italy. On the back end of my trip, my family came over, and my Mom and I took a cooking class for four days on the Amalfi coast in a little town called Positano. We learned the basics of Italian cooking – how to make the best margarita pizza with only the freshest ingredients, how to make pasta dough with our bare hands, and how to make a killer tomato sauce using only cherry tomatoes, olive oil and garlic.
I can still remember closing my eyes while I ate, and wondering if I’d ever taste something as delicious as that sauce back at home – or if I’d even come close to being able replicate it myself.
Since then, I’ve made a bazillion different variations, all equally as delicious as they were in Italy. I’ve used it as a topping on fish or grilled chicken, slathered it on garlic-rubbed crostinis and tossed it with scrambled eggs, but I think today’s version may be my favorite adaptation yet. Not only because it’s simple and delicious, but because the cooking time from start to finish is less than 30 minutes – pure gold in my book.
The sauce starts with a small army of thinly sliced garlic that take a bath in hot, but not screaming hot olive oil. Two pounds of cherry (or grape) tomatoes are then thrown in, the heat is cranked up, and you just watch as the hot oil works it’s magic on the tomatoes, making them blister and explode as they cook. I like to help the process along a little bit by adding a ladle full of starchy pasta water and a good amount of kosher salt. The sauce simmers for a few minutes, and then slightly undercooked angel hair is tossed with the burst tomatoes. Since the past is just slightly underdone, it finishes cooking in the sauce, infusing SO much flavor into each strand of pasta.
Once everything is melded together, I toss in a good handful of parmesan cheese, about a cup of fresh basil and more pasta water if need be.
Simple. Fresh. And seriously delicious.
- ½ pound angel hair
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 5 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 2 pounds cherry or grape tomatoes
- 1 cup loosely packed basil, roughly chopped
- ¾ teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning
- ½ cup grated parmesan, plus more for garnish
- Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Add in a good handful of salt. Add pasta. Cook aldente or until pasta is slightly undercooked. Using tongs remove pasta from water into a colander. Reserve cooking liquid.
- While pasta is cooking, add garlic and olive oil to a very large skillet. Turn the heat on medium and cook until garlic becomes soft, about two minutes.
- Turn the heat to a medium-high and add tomatoes and salt. Cook two minutes.
- Add ½ cup of starchy cooking liquid leftover from pasta. Bring the mixture to a boil and reduce to a simmer for five minutes — the tomatoes should be starting to burst. If they haven’t gently push on them using the back of a wooden spoon. You only want about half to burst. Add pasta, cook another two minutes.
- Turn the heat off, add basil and parmesan cheese. Toss to coat. If needed add more starchy pasta water.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Serve with extra grated parmesan cheese.
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