Angel Hair Pasta with Quick Cherry Tomato Sauce

DinnerQuick and EasyVegetarianAngel Hair Pasta

This Angel Hair Pasta with Cherry Tomato Sauce is so quick and easy! Ready in about 20 minutes flat, and SO GOOD! Best with fresh summer cherry tomatoes.

Photography Credit: Sheryl Julian

Every once in a while, I improvise a pasta dinner that I like so much, I end up making it twice in one week. That’s what happened with this recipe.

It’s so quick and simple: Just sauté colorful cherry tomatoes with garlic and toss them with angel hair pasta. Top it with Parmesan and you’re done

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To say the sauce is quick doesn’t quite get the point across. It’s practically instant. This is one of those surprising meals that is more than the sum of its parts.

Angel Hair Pasta with Quick Cherry Tomato SauceAngel hair pasta is sometimes labeled capellini or capelli d’Angelo – either is fine. If you can’t find angel hair, use thin spaghetti, sometimes labeled spaghettini. All of these different pastas cook in minutes.

You need two pints of mixed cherry tomatoes. Pierce them with a knife so they don’t burst their juices all over you while they cook. Four minutes in a hot skillet makes them a little saucy and deliciously intense.

Angel Hair Pasta with Quick Cherry Tomato SauceSave some of the pasta cooking water before you drain the angel hair – it’s starchy and adds some richness and silkiness to this simple sauce.

Toss the pasta with the tomatoes and basil leaves right in the pan, and sprinkle some Parmesan goes on top. You can serve this quick and pretty pasta dish straight from the skillet. Again and again.

Angel Hair Pasta with Quick Cherry Tomato Sauce Recipe

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: 4 to 6 servings

If you're good at multitasking, start the sauce as soon as the pasta goes into the pot so everything comes together at about the same time. If this feels stressful, cook the pasta first and then start the sauce. Either way, dinner is ready fast!

For a fancier presentation, if serving this at a dinner party, remove half of the tomatoes before tossing with the pasta. Plate the pasta, then top with the reserved tomatoes.


  • 2 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 pounds angel hair pasta (capellini or capelli d’Angelo), or another thin spaghetti
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 pints red and yellow cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, very thinly sliced
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves, removed from the stems
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese


1 Cook the pasta: Bring a large pot of water with 2 teaspoons of salt to a boil. Add the pasta and stir well until the water returns to a boil.

Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the pasta is tender. With a ladle or a heat-proof liquid measuring cup, remove about 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water and set aside.

Drain the pasta but do not rinse it; transfer to a bowl. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of the oil and toss well.

Angel Hair Pasta with Quick Cherry Tomato Sauce

2 Prep the tomatoes: Pierce small whole tomatoes with a skewer or the tip of a paring knife. Halve the tomatoes if they’re large.

3 Make the sauce: In a deep skillet over medium-high heat, heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil. Add the cherry tomatoes – they will splutter – along with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, red pepper, and black pepper.

Cook, shaking the pan, for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the tomatoes start to collapse and form juices. Add the garlic and continue cooking for 2 minutes more.

Angel Hair Pasta with Quick Cherry Tomato Sauce

4 Toss the pasta with the sauce: Add the pasta and 1/4 cup of the pasta water to the skillet with the tomato sauce. Toss well.

Add more pasta water if needed, a tablespoon at a time, to thin the mixture so the sauce coats the pasta. Add half the basil leaves and toss again.

Angel Hair Pasta with Quick Cherry Tomato Sauce

5 Serve: Divide the pasta among 4 to 6 large bowls. Add a few basil leaves on top of the pasta and sprinkle generously with Parmesan.

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Angel Hair Pasta with Quick Cherry Tomato Sauce

Sheryl Julian

Sheryl Julian is an award-winning writer, editor, and food stylist. She is the former food editor of The Boston Globe, co-author of The Way We Cook, and editor of The New Boston Globe Cookbook. Her food sections won Best Newspaper Food Coverage from the Association of Food Journalists in 2015.

More from Sheryl

10 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Angelita

    This was fantastic! I served it alongside some baked fish. Super easy, super delicious. I’ll be making this again this summer for sure!


  2. Rachel

    This was grand! My toddlers wanted nothing to do with the tomatoes or the basil (my 4 year old is a tomato snob who only eats them raw) but they ate the pasta up. I loved how the pasta water made a nice sauce. I will make it again.


  3. Joffrey

    So quick and easy!


  4. Jody

    Your list of ingredients calls for garlic, thinly sliced. Am I crazy? Because I keep rereading the recipe and can’t find when it is added to the dish. I’m assuming it is with the olive oil and tomatoes?

    Show Replies (1)
  5. Aretha

    Added shrimp and was amazing!!!! We love garlic so I added three more cloves. Next time I’ll add more tomatoes. But this is such a winner!!! Very versatile.

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Angel Hair Pasta with Quick Cherry Tomato SauceAngel Hair Pasta with Quick Cherry Tomato Sauce