Fresh Tomato Pasta Sauce is a classic Italian recipe bursting with flavor from garlic and fresh basil. This homemade rustic spaghetti sauce is perfect for both weeknight dinners and special occasions.
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Family favorite recipe
We all have our favorite pasta recipes we turn to on a regular basis.
It’s a classic Mediterranean recipe that I’ve been making for years.
And you might have your own family version of it.
It’s one of my favorite things to make with fresh cherry or grape tomatoes.
But if you have larger tomatoes, you can use them for this recipe as well. Just chop them up into a small dice.
Or if you have multi-colored tomatoes, they would be beautiful in this dish.
I love how sweet the tomatoes become when they are sauteed in the olive oil.
If you’re lucky, your Italian grandmother taught you the secret to making fresh sauces adhere to noodles.
Do you know what it is?
It’s pasta water!
Yes, the starchy water the pasta cooked in is your secret weapon for homemade pasta sauces.
No more dry spaghetti for you!
When the pasta is al dente, simply dunk a coffee mug in the water and save about a cup of it before draining the pasta.
Then when you mix in the sauce, add a little of the cloudy liquid.
You’ll notice me doing this in the recipe video.
Unfortunately, my grandmother didn’t teach me how to cook, but I learned this trick by watching Rachael Ray. You can read more tips in the article Everything You Need to Know About Pasta Water.
Fresh Tomato Pasta Sauce ingredients
You only need a handful of ingredients to make this homemade spaghetti sauce:
- Olive oil (the best oil as part of a Mediterranean diet)
- Fresh garlic (for sweet and nutty flavor)
- Cherry or grape tomatoes (or use larger tomatoes diced small)
- Salt (for balance)
- Fresh basil leaves (for sweet and peppery flavor)
And while I tend to serve this sauce with spaghetti or linguini, it works with any shape pasta such as penne or fusilli.
How to make homemade tomato sauce
The fresh sauce comes together quickly while your pasta is cooking.
- First saute some minced garlic in olive oil.
- Then add the chopped tomatoes and saute until they are soft and slightly charred.
- Add the cooked spaghetti to the tomato mixture along with some of the reserved starchy pasta water and toss.
- Top with torn or cut basil leaves and dinner is ready!
Wait to tear or chop the basil until the last minute to prevent the leaves from turning dark from bruising.
This homemade Italian dish is a satisfying meal on its own.
But I like to serve it with a salad such as one of these favorites:
Fresh Tomato Pasta Sauce recipe
Leftover pasta can be covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days. Reheat it in the microwave or on the stove with a little olive oil over low heat.
If you love this recipe, please give it 5 stars!
Fresh Tomato Pasta Sauce
- 1 pound pasta, (I use gluten-free spaghetti which is usually 12 ounces)
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 dry pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved or quartered, depending on their size
- salt, to taste
- fresh basil, to taste
- Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling water according to the package directions. When the pasta is done, dip a coffee mug into the pasta water to reserve about a cup’s worth of the starch water. Drain the pasta and set aside.
- While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
- Add the garlic and saute until it’s fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Then add the tomatoes to the pan. Saute the tomatoes until they are soft and slightly charred, stirring occasionally.
- Add salt, to taste, and stir.
- Transfer the cooked pasta to the skillet along with the reserved pasta water. (If your skillet isn’t large enough, use the pot you cooked the pasta in instead.)
- Toss the pasta with the tomato mixture so that all the pasta is coated.
- Transfer the pasta to a serving dish. Tear the fresh basil leaves and add them to the pasta. Serve immediately.