Enjoy a perfect homemade summer dinner with delicious Pasta with Tomato Basil Sauce recipe. Top it with fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano for a quick, easy recipe that’s simply bursting with flavor!
Can anyone tell me something that shouts “summertime” more loud and clear than tomatoes and fresh basil? Tomatoes and basil are two ingredients that make a near-perfect combination every time.
There’s the classic Caprese Salad with tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella. And Panzanella, the perfectly delectable use for day-old Italian bread, with tomatoes and basil. But today I’m bringing you my recipe for a simple, fragrant, and nearly irresistible tomato basil sauce.
I make this recipe often during the summer months when the basil is growing faster than I can find uses for it. It’s quick, it’s easy, and your whole family will love it. Mine does.
Because this recipe uses so few ingredients, be sure to use the very best of each that you can afford. I like the Cento brand of San Marzano tomatoes and I always use real Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese for this. It makes all the difference in the final dish.
❤️ Why We Love This Recipe
- It’s simple and fresh! This easy tomato basil sauce embodies the essence of summer with a minimal number of vibrant ingredients.
- It’s versatile. Whether you’re cooking a casual weeknight dinner or hosting a special gathering, this recipe is a go-to option. It can stand alone as a satisfying vegetarian entrée or serve as a basis for additional ingredients like grilled shrimp, chicken, or roasted vegetables.
🛒 Ingredient Notes
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- San Marzano Tomatoes: San Marzano tomatoes are key to achieving a robust and authentic Italian flavor in this recipe. They’re prized for their less acidic profile and meaty texture, making them ideal for sauces. Look for reputable brands like Cento for the best results. If you have fresh tomatoes (such as Romas) you can use those if you prefer.
- Onion and Garlic Cloves: Sautéed onion and minced garlic cloves create the aromatic base of the sauce. Use a medium-sized onion, diced, and fresh garlic cloves for the best flavor.
- Fresh Basil: The flavor of fresh basil is central to this recipe. Opt for large, fresh basil leaves and simply tear them into pieces or cut into chiffonade (thin strips) for a more refined presentation.
- Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese: I do recommend real Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese if it fits into your grocery budget. There are several more affordable brands on the market including BelGioioso. Be sure to grate the cheese from a block for optimal taste. You may substitute other cheeses, but authentic Parmigiano-Reggiano truly makes a noticeable difference.
- Pasta Variety: Either spaghetti or linguine works great, but feel free to experiment with other pasta shapes. Penne, fettuccine, or even rigatoni can provide a unique texture that holds the sauce well.
- Red Pepper Flakes: These add a gentle heat to the dish. If you’re not a fan of spiciness, you can omit them without compromising the overall flavor.
- Olive Oil: Choose a high-quality extra virgin olive oil to sauté the garlic and onions.
🥄 How to Make Pasta with Tomato Basil Sauce
- Place a large pot of water on to boil and cook the pasta according to the package directions. While the pasta is cooking, prepare the sauce.
- Heat the olive oil in a large, deep pan over medium-high heat.
- Add the garlic and onion. Cook until the onion is softened, approximately 4-5 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes with all their juice. Crush the tomatoes using a potato masher or the back of a wooden spoon. For a very smooth sauce, use a stick blender.
- Add the basil, a good pinch of salt, several grinds of black pepper and red pepper flakes. Cook for ten minutes or until the tomatoes are very soft.
👉 PRO TIP: You can chop or chiffonade the basil if you like, but for this recipe, I like to just tear it into large pieces. Feel free to add even more fresh basil if you like.
- Add the hot, cooked pasta to the pan and toss or stir to combine. If you feel that the sauce is a little too thick, add a spoonful or two of the pasta cooking water to thin the sauce.
- To serve, top with Parmigiano-Reggiano and a little more fresh basil. Makes four very generous servings.
🍚 Storing and Freezing Leftovers
Got leftovers? That’s great because this recipe is just as delicious the next day! Follow these tips to store and preserve the flavors:
Allow the pasta to cool completely. Transfer pasta and sauce to an airtight container and refrigerate within 2 hours of cooking to ensure food safety. Store in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. When reheating, a quick sauté in a pan with a splash of water or broth can help refresh the flavors and prevent the pasta from drying out.
If you’ve made a larger batch or want to save some for later, freezing is a great option. Allow the pasta and sauce to cool completely before freezing. Portion into individual serving sizes or family-sized portions based on your needs. Leave a bit of space at the top of the container to account for expansion as the food freezes. Transfer to the freezer and store for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating. Reheat gently on the stovetop with a bit of water or sauce to bring back the original consistency.
👉 PRO TIP: While leftovers can be frozen, keep in mind that the texture of the pasta will change slightly when reheated. However, the flavors should remain intact, allowing you to enjoy a taste of summer even during cold winter months.
HAVE YOU TRIED THIS RECIPE?
I’d LOVE to know what you thought!
Leave a rating below in the comments and let me know how you liked it!
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Pasta with Tomato Basil Sauce
- 1 pound spaghetti or linguine
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 medium onion diced
- 28 ounces canned San Marzano tomatoes
- 12 large fresh basil leaves torn into pieces
- Large pinch of salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- ½ cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- Cook pasta according to the package directions. While the pasta is cooking, prepare the sauce.
- Heat the olive oil in a large, deep pan over medium-high heat.
- Add the garlic and onion. Cook until onion is softened, approximately 4-5 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes with their juice. Crush the tomatoes using a potato masher or the back of a wooden spoon.
- Add the basil, salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes. Cook for ten minutes or until the tomatoes are well softened.
- Add the hot, cooked pasta to the pan and toss or stir to combine.
- Top with Parmigiano-Reggiano and a little more fresh basil.
- To store leftovers: allow the pasta to cool completely. Transfer pasta and sauce to an airtight container and refrigerate for 3-4 days. Reheat over low heat in a pan with a splash of water or broth.
- To freeze, allow the pasta and sauce to cool completely. Portion into individual serving sizes or family-sized portions based on your needs. Leave a bit of space at the top of the container to account for expansion during freezing. Transfer to the freezer and store for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating. Reheat gently on the stovetop with a bit of water or sauce to bring back the original consistency.
Nutrition information is calculated by software based on the ingredients in each recipe. It is an estimate only and is provided for informational purposes. You should consult your health care provider or a registered dietitian if precise nutrition calculations are needed for health reasons.
— This post was originally published on June 8, 2010. It has been updated with additional information.