When it’s that time of year where you find yourself coming home from the farmers market or grocery store with a pile of ripe, juicy summer tomatoes but you’re not sure what to do with them (other than put them on toast with olive oil and salt, yum!), then make this classic Italian pasta. It’s incredibly simple and really highlights and brings out the sweetness and umami flavor in those tomatoes.

The tomatoes get cooked in oil until they become nice and saucy, then tomato paste and garlic join the party to give the sauce more body and a boost of tomato flavor. Add the pasta and pasta water and simmer so the noodles soak up and get coated in that fresh tomato sauce. All you need is a little basil, parm, and olive oil to finish off this perfect summer pasta!

Ingredient highlight

Tomatoes! There is nothing like a ripe juicy summer tomato and the end of summer is peak season. Not only does that mean they will be sweeter, juicier, and more flavorful, but it also means their nutrient content is at its highest. Tomatoes are a great source of vitamins C, A, K, and potassium. They’re rich in lycopene, an antioxidant that gives tomatoes that bright red color. They also are high in lutein and zeaxanthin – two nutrients important for eye health.

P.S. When eating tomatoes NOT in summer, I always opt for cherry tomatoes since they are usually sweeter and juicier.

Servings 4
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes


  • 12 oz spaghetti
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 6 medium tomatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces (about 1.5 lbs or 3 cups)*
  • 1 tsp kosher salt, divided
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed
  • ½ tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
  • Parmesan cheese, for topping
  • loosely packed fresh basil leaves or parsley, for topping (left whole, torn, or sliced thinly)
  • *You could also use 2 pints of cherry tomatoes, no need to chop them.
  • Add protein! ~ I love this pasta served with Italian sausage. You could either grill/cook sausage separately or pan-fry the sausage in some oil before cooking the tomatoes (remove and top your pasta with the sausage later). You could also do a mix of sausage and beans (cook sausage first, then add beans and a bit of salt and cook until the beans turn golden). Grilled sliced chicken or these meatballs would also be so good! OR add a generous dollop of cottage cheese on top – it has ricotta vibes but higher in protein, so good!


  • Fill a large pot with water (about 2-3 quarts) and bring to a boil over high heat. Season generously with salt and add the pasta. Cook according to the package instructions for al dente (the pasta will cook more in the sauce). Reserve about 1 1/2 cups of pasta water, then drain and set aside.
  • In a large skillet over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. Add the tomatoes and ½ teaspoon salt and cook for 7-10 minutes or until the tomato juices have reduced and it is starting to look “saucy”, stirring occasionally.
  • Add the tomato paste, garlic, and red pepper flakes (if using) and cook for 2 more minutes, stirring often. Add the pasta, remaining ½ teaspoon salt, and 1 cup pasta water and stir to combine.
  • Simmer over medium heat for about 3-5 more minutes or until the sauce reduces and coats the noodles, stirring occasionally. You can always add more pasta water (or just warm water) to thin out the sauce, if needed.
  • Serve topped with basil, plenty of parmesan, and a drizzle of good olive oil.

Items you can prep ahead (optional)

  • Cut 6 medium tomatoes into 1-inch pieces


  • No substitutions here! To make vegan, just skip the parmesan cheese. 


  • Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.

Leftovers + Repurposing:

  • Warm up the pasta in the microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring after each time, until warmed through. Top with cheese, herbs, and oil.
  • As mentioned, this pasta pairs really well with cooked or grilled sausage or chicken (or these meatballs). I like to cook a bit of sausage with beans for a plant/animal protein topper.

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