This blistered tomato pasta is salty, sweet, and a little bit tangy from pops of cherry tomatoes, pecorino romano cheese, and fresh basil. You will love this comforting blistered tomato pasta dish on a hot summer day!
There is just something so cozy to me about pasta, no matter the time of year. Sometimes, I think I could eat it every day! I love playing around with different flavors and textures in pasta dishes, and I’ll often look in my pantry and fridge to throw something fun together for a weeknight dinner.
Normally, my go-to weeknight pasta might be a pasta with a classic tomato sauce or even a spicy tomato pasta. In the summer, though, when cherry tomatoes are in season, I know I’m going to be making cherry tomato pasta.
This blistered tomato pasta features plump, juicy cherry tomatoes that pop and blister while they simmer with garlic and red pepper flakes. As the juices seep out of the cherry tomatoes, it creates a natural sauce for the pasta to cling to. A handful of grated pecorino romano adds saltiness and tang, and fresh basil brightness the dish. This pasta dish has the perfect combo of comforting flavors you know and love with a refreshing summery twist from fresh cherry tomatoes and basil. You can eat the pasta straight out of the pan (like I do!) or let it cool to room temp on a particularly hot day.
What kind of tomatoes should I use for this blistered tomato pasta?
I highly recommend using cherry tomatoes, a small variety of tomato, for their sweet and juicy flavor. My husband loves cherry tomatoes, so we always have them at home year-round — but in the summer, they are so, so flavorful and juicy! You can use any variety (and color!) of cherry tomatoes you like. In a pinch, you can use grape tomatoes, but they aren’t as juicy or sweet, and they won’t break down as much so your pasta may not be as saucy.
Ingredients in this blistered tomato pasta
The ingredients in this blistered tomato pasta recipe are relatively easy to find in any major grocery store. If you’re having trouble finding a particular ingredient, I’ve listed details on substitutions below.
- Cherry tomatoes: Cherry tomatoes are critical for this dish!
- Garlic: In my opinion, the combination of tomato and garlic is so good — and so you’ll rarely see a tomato-based recipe without it!
- Red Pepper Flakes: A small pinch of red pepper flakes adds just a little bit of heat to the dish.
- Anchovy (optional, omit for vegetarian recipe): I usually have a tin of anchovies in the fridge laying around, and I really like the addition of the anchovy to this dish; it helps bring out the umami flavor of the tomatoes and adds a nice savory note. You can omit this if you’re not a fan of anchovies (though I highly recommend trying it out — it won’t taste fishy!), or if you’re vegetarian.
- Pecorino Romano Cheese: Pecorino romano cheese is a bit funky and tangy, and contrasts the sweet tomato flavor nicely. If you only have parmigiano-reggiano, you can absolutely substitute that.
- Basil: A bit of fresh basil really brightens the whole dish.
How do I blister tomatoes?
You may be wondering, what exactly does it mean to “blister tomatoes?” And how do I blister them? To blister tomatoes, you will simmer the tomatoes in a pan or skillet until the skins begin to blister, wrinkle, and burst. The tomatoes will begin to break down and release some of their juices, which helps create a nice sauce. I like to use a mix of whole cherry tomatoes, and halved cherry tomatoes. The halved tomatoes break down to create a sauce, and the whole tomatoes wrinkle and burst, but remain intact so that you get plenty of pieces of tomato.
How to make blistered tomato pasta
Ready to get started? Here’s a step-by-step walkthrough on how to make blistered tomato pasta.
- Prep the tomatoes: Slice half of the cherry tomatoes in half and leave the rest intact (whole).
- Saute red pepper flakes and garlic in olive oil until aromatic.
- Simmer the tomatoes: Add the cherry tomatoes and let them simmer until they begin to pop and blister, about 8 to 10 minutes. Mash some of the tomatoes to help create a sauce for the pasta to cling to.
- Cook and add your pasta: Cook your pasta until just before it is al dente (it should still have a bite!), then toss with the cherry tomato sauce, basil, cheese, and pasta water until it’s nice and saucy. Enjoy!
How long will this blistered tomato pasta last in the fridge?
Leftover tomato pasta can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 to 4 days.
Did you try this recipe? I would love to hear your feedback! Be sure to rate the recipe and leave a comment below.
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Blistered Tomato Pasta
- 16 ounces cherry tomatoes
- 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
- 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1 anchovy fillet, drained (optional)
- 1/4 cup fresh basil, cut into thin ribbons
- Salt and black pepper, as needed
- 8 ounces dried pasta, spaghetti or bucatini
- 1/4 cup pecorino-romano cheese, freshly grated (plus more for serving)
- Slice half of the cherry tomatoes in half. Leave the other half of the cherry tomatoes intact (keep them whole). Set aside.
- Set a large stainless steel skillet or dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add the olive oil and red pepper flakes and saute with a wooden spoon until the red pepper flakes begin to sizzle, about 1 minute.
- Add the garlic and anchovy filet, and saute for 2 minutes until aromatic. Use the wooden spoon to break up the anchovy into small pieces — it should begin to disintegrate into the oil.
- Add the cherry tomatoes, and stir to combine. Increase the heat to medium, and bring the mixture to a simmer (lower the temp as needed to prevent any burning). Simmer the cherry tomatoes for 8 to 10 minutes, or until they begin to wrinkle and burst and release their liquid.
- Meanwhile, set a large pot of water to boil. Generously season with salt, and cook pasta until just before al dente (it will finish cooking in the sauce). Reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water for the sauce.
- Break up some of the tomatoes with a wooden spoon to release more liquid and help create a sauce for the pasta to cling to. Add half of the basil and simmer for an additional 2 to 3 minutes, until the sauce is chunky and somewhat thick.
- Keep the tomato sauce at a low simmer, then transfer the pasta to the sauce using tongs (or drain the pasta in a colander and transfer). Toss to combine, adding about 1/4 cup of pasta water at a time to loosen the sauce as needed. Continue tossing the pasta and reducing the sauce until it clings nicely to the sauce.
- Turn the heat off, then stir in the pecorino romano cheese. Add any additional pasta water as needed if you need to loosen the sauce. Season with salt and pepper.
- Divide the pasta amongst serving bowls and top with a bit of olive oil and more grated pecorino cheese. Enjoy!