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Roast cherry tomatoes with garlic, then toss with fresh mozzarella cheese and angel hair pasta to create a truly amazing weeknight dinner the entire family will enjoy.
So easy and delicious, this Cherry Tomato Pasta is literally bursting with fresh tomato basil flavor.
When you need to get dinner on the table fast, opening a jar of pasta sauce sure is tempting, but one taste of my made-from-scratch cherry tomato sauce will have you thinking twice the next time!
Does your family love pasta? My slow cooker balsamic chicken over angel hair pasta takes just 10 minutes to prep and is always a big hit. Or, you may enjoy this easy vegetable skillet lasagna — it’s fantastic!
Key ingredients and substitutions
- Cherry tomatoes — You’ll need a pound of ripe cherry tomatoes for this recipe. You may also use other small tomatoes like Campari if you cut them into smaller chunks.
- Garlic — Roast 2 to 3 cloves of garlic, or more if you’re a garlic lover, along with the tomatoes. Roasted garlic has a milder and sweeter flavor.
- Extra-virgin olive oil — Extra virgin olive oil has more intense flavor than light olive oil and is best suited for this recipe. You’ll use it to coat the tomatoes for roasting and also to toss the pasta.
- Parmesan cheese — Use a microplane zester or box grater to grate the parmesan cheese, or use pre-grated cheese if you like.
- Fresh mozzarella cheese — I like the milder flavor and creaminess of fresh mozzarella, but you may also use feta cheese or even ricotta cheese.
- Pasta — I opted for angel hair pasta in this recipe, but you can use any kind of pasta noodles, either thin spaghetti or short pasta like rigatoni or penne pasta.
How to make Cherry Tomato Pasta
STEP 1 | Bake the tomatoes
Roasting the cherry tomatoes intensifies their flavor and makes a delicious base for this dish. Start by halving the tomatoes and placing them cut side up in a casserole dish.
Drizzle the tomatoes with a good quality olive oil and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese and panko bread crumbs. Bake in a 425-degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes, until the tomatoes have softened and wilted.
STEP 2 | Cook the noodles
While the tomatoes are roasting, bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until it just al dente, still slightly firm when bitten. Drain the pasta, reserving 1 to 2 cups of the pasta cooking water.
For years, I had no idea that adding some of the salty pasta water to my spaghetti was the trick to getting the sauce to coat the noodles! It’s a trick the Italians have known all along. Not only does it make for a creamier sauce, it adds flavor, too.
STEP 3 | Combine the remaining ingredients
Add the cooked noodles and about a cup of the pasta water to the casserole dish with the roasted tomatoes, tossing gently. Drizzle with more olive oil and sprinkle with bits of fresh mozzarella cheese.
Return to the oven for another 5 minutes, until the cheese has melted. Stir the cheese into the pasta to combine. If it seems dry, add a bit more reserved pasta water and olive oil until well coated. Garnish with torn fresh basil leaves and serve with more grated Parmesan cheese.
Frequently asked questions
Absolutely, but it will take more attention than making roasted cherry tomato sauce in the oven. Remember, roasting the tomatoes brings out a sweeter, caramelized taste that you won’t get on top of the stove.
That being said, to make the pasta sauce on the stove, add cherry tomatoes to a large non-reactive skillet along with the garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Cook and stir occasionally until the tomatoes are soft, wilted, and slightly charred.
Stir in the parmesan cheese, panko bread crumbs, and some of the pasta water until creamy, then toss with the noodles and remaining cheese.
Place a single serving of pasta in a microwave safe dish and sprinkle a little water on top. Cover loosely with a damp paper towel or wax paper and cook for 90 seconds, until hot and steamy.
Serve cherry tomato pasta with a tossed green salad and a loaf of cheesy garlic bread for a quick and easy weeknight dinner. Truthfully, I could make a meal out of that cheesy bread!
You may also serve sliced grilled chicken or grilled shrimp on top of cherry tomato pasta for an even heartier meal.
Last year baked feta cheese pasta went viral on Tik Tok and was all the rage. Today’s recipe is similar, but the sauce is not quite as cheesy. My cherry tomato pasta is light and creamy, and believe it or not, my husband (who thinks you should eat meat at every meal) requests this tomato pasta over and over!
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Cherry Tomato Pasta
- 1 pound small cherry tomatoes halved
- 2 – 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil plus 2 to 3 tablespoons for tossing
- 2 tablespoons sea salt divided
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese plus more for serving
- 1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
- 1/2 pound angel hair pasta noodles
- ¼ pound fresh mozzarella cheese
- ¼ cup fresh basil leaves torn
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
- Slice the cherry tomatoes in half and place cut side up in a 9 x 13 inch casserole dish to cover the entire bottom of the dish. Sprinkle the minced garlic on top, then evenly drizzle with 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil.
- Next, season with 1/2 teaspoon sea salt and the freshly ground black pepper. Sprinkle the top with the Parmesan cheese and panko breadcrumbs.
- Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the tomatoes are soft and wilted.
- In the meantime, bring a large pot of water and the remaining salt to a boil over high heat. Cook the pasta according to the package directions, until al dente. Drain the noodles, reserving 1 1/2 cups of the pasta water.
- Add the cooked noodles along with a cup of the reserved pasta water to the casserole dish and toss gently with the tomatoes. Drizzle with another 2 or 3 tablespoons of olive oil and dot the top with bits of fresh mozzarella cheese.
- Return to the oven for 5 minutes, until the cheese is melted. Stir the cheese into the pasta and garnish the top with the torn basil leaves. If the dish seems a bit dry, add another splash of pasta water and olive oil until well coated. Serve with more grated Parmesan cheese.
- Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- To reheat leftovers, place a single serving of pasta in a microwave safe dish and sprinkle a little water on top. Cover loosely with a damp paper towel or wax paper and cook for 90 seconds, until hot and steamy.
Life Love and Good Food does not claim to be a registered dietician or nutritionist. Nutritional information shared on this site is only an estimate. We recommend running the ingredients through an online nutritional calculator if you need to verify any information.
About Sheila Thigpen
Recipe Developer, Food Photographer, Food Writer
Sheila Thigpen is the publisher of Life, Love, and Good Food — a Southern food blog — and the author of Easy Chicken Cookbook and The 5-Ingredient Fresh and Easy Cookbook. After 20+ years in the publishing industry, she retired in 2018 to focus on her own creative endeavors full time. She and her husband live near the beautiful Smoky Mountains and have a precious little granddaughter who has stolen their hearts. As an influencer, Sheila has collaborated with brands like Creamette, Kroger, HERSHEY’S, Hamilton Beach, Garafalo Pasta, OXO, Smithfield, Valley Fig Growers, and more.
Oh my word, your tips are fabulous, this is on our menu this week!
Yum! Perfect timing since I have tons of cherry tomatoes on the vine in my garden right now! Making this tonight!