Angel Hair Pasta with Quick Cherry Tomato Sauce

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.

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


  • 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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  • 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.


  • Joffrey

    So quick and easy!


  • 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?

    • Emma Christensen

      Hi, Jody! The garlic is listed in Step 3! You add it right after the tomatoes start to collapse, and then continue cooking for another two minutes. Enjoy!

  • 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.

  • Dede Ranahan

    I have a no-cook pasta recipe using these ingredients. I put the olive oil, cherry tomatoes, garlic, salt and pepper, basil (and sometimes add pearled mozzarella) into a pan and place it on top of the water coming to a boil for the pasta. Once the water is boiling, I remove the pan with the “sauce,” cook the pasta, drain and toss with the warmed sauce and top with parmesan. Dozens of variations on this technique with different cheeses and herbs. So simple and so fresh.

  • Lana

    Perfect! I am being over run by homegrown cherry tomatoes that are oh so delicious right now. Can’t wait to make this!

  • elizabeth verkerk

    Very happy to share good things together…