This 20 minute cherry tomato and basil angel hair pasta recipe comes together in a jiffy, and will satisfy the whole family, even the kids!
Every time the holidays are over and new year rolls 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 this month.
Cooking Class in Italy
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.
Less Than 30 Minute Dinner Recipe
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.
Ingredients for Tomato Basil Angel Hair Pasta
You will only need 8 simple ingredients to make this easy angel hair pasta recipe! A whole meal with just 8 ingredients in less than a half hour…you can’t get much better than that! Here is what you will need:
- Angel Hair Pasta: it cooks up quickly and soaks up the flavor of the tomatoes and garlic
- Olive Oil: used to sauté the tomatoes and garlic, extra virgin olive oil is preferred for best flavor
- Garlic: adds bold delicious flavor
- Cherry Tomatoes: or grape tomatoes
- Fresh Basil: adds bright fresh flavor, if you don’t have fresh basil, use 2 teaspoons of dried basil
- Salt: adds flavor
- Granulated Parmesan: adds depth of flavor
- Lemon: a pop of citrus rounds out the dish perfectly
All the measurements for each ingredient can be found in the recipe card at the end of the post.
How to Make Cherry Tomato and Basil Angel Hair Pasta
You will want to start by cooking the angel hair pasta. Get a large pot of salted water going on the stove top until the water is boiling. Add the pasta and cook according to the package instructions until al dente. It will cook pretty quick so don’t overcook it. While the pasta is cooking, get the sauce going.
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.
Simple Tomato Sauce
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 cooked pasta 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.
Watch How This Pasta Recipe is Made…
What is the Difference Between Cherry and Grape Tomatoes
I used to think that small red tomatoes were all cherry tomatoes. I didn’t really take the time to notice that some were more oval and that they tasted slightly different. But they are different and I’m a grape tomato fan.
If you don’t like one tomato you may like the other, so let’s take a look at what is the difference between cherry and grape tomatoes.
Grape tomatoes are oblong and shaped like, well like grapes. They’re about half the size of cherry tomatoes, with thicker skins. Grape tomatoes aren’t as sweet as cherry tomatoes, but they still have that great tomato flavor, and their flesh is meatier and less watery.
We especially like that they are less watery as it’s more about the flavor than all of those clear juices running out.
What is the Difference Between Angel Hair Pasta and Spaghetti?
Angel hair pasta, or capellini pasta, is a little different than your typical pasta as it’s very thin and happens to be our preferred pasta. We like how light the pasta is and it allows whatever ingredients you add to it to really shine versus a heavier spaghetti.
Spaghetti is a little thicker than angel hair is is meant for heartier sauces.
How Much Angel Hair Noodles Per Person
The general rule is 2 ounces per person, so if you have the package and it’s usually 16 ounces a package then you can half it, split that into quarters and you’ve got 2 ounces but if you’re like me and end up with pasta in containers it can be tricky.
I grew up learning the finger method for measuring pasta which I think works pretty well. You can watch how to measure dry pasta with this video.
As is, this a vegetarian recipe, but you can definitely add to it if you want to make it more of a hearty main course. You could add a protein or more vegetables and here are a few ideas:
Protein – shrimp, chicken breast, or sausage (all should be cooked prior to adding)
Veggies – zucchini, asparagus, broccoli, mushrooms or peas
Leftovers of this recipe store extremely well in an airtight container in the fridge. They will keep for up to 5 days.
I actually like eating the leftovers cold but they can definitely be zapped in the microwave to warm them back up.
If you’re looking to add to your options for weeknight dinners, try this easy angel hair pasta recipe! It is loaded with cherry tomatoes bursting with flavor, fresh basil leaves and garlic all topped with parmesan cheese. It’s simple and on the table in less than 30 minutes!
More Easy Pasta Recipes to Try
This cherry tomato and basil angel comes together in under 20 minutes, making for a a delicious and super easy meal for your family!
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Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil.
Add in a good handful of salt. Add pasta. Cook al dente or until pasta is slightly undercooked.
1/2 pound Angel Hair Pasta
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 and stir to keep from sticking.
5 Garlic Cloves, 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
Turn the medium heat and cook until garlic becomes soft, about two minutes.
Turn the heat to a medium-high and add tomatoes and salt to the pan. Cook two minutes.
2 pounds Cherry or Grape Tomatoes, 3/4 teaspoon Salt
Add 1/2 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.
1 Cup Basil, 1/2 Cup Granulated Parmesan
Toss to coat.
If needed add more starchy pasta water.
Season to taste with salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon.
Serve with extra grated parmesan cheese.
Pasta can be stored in the refrigerator for 3-5 days.