A simple sauce of juicy, bursty cherry tomatoes (aka nature’s Gushers) that comes together in around 15 minutes.
If you can’t find cherry tomatoes, any larger ones will work just as well for this summery pasta sauce recipe. Simply cut them into pieces about the size of cherry tomatoes and proceed.
8 ounces short pasta (penne, rigatoni, orecchiette (shown here), shells, cavatappi, etc)
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 pints whole cherry tomatoes
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Fresh ground black pepper
2 garlic cloves
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
¼ cup pasta water
1 handful fresh small basil leaves, chopped if large
Make the pasta: Start a pot of well salted water to a boil. Boil the pasta until it is just al dente. Start tasting a few minutes before the package recommends: you want it to be tender but still a little firm on the inside; usually around 7 to 8 minutes. Before draining, reserve some pasta water with a liquid measuring cup (at least ¼ cup). Drain the pasta.
Blister the tomatoes: Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a very large heavy skillet over medium high heat. Once hot, add the tomatoes, making sure there is space around each tomato (they are not touching) and the pan is not crowded. If you’re using a medium pan, cook the tomatoes in 2 batches.* Cook for 1 minute without touching the pan, then 2 to 3 more minutes until blistered, shaking the pan several times to rotate the tomatoes. Turn off the heat and drizzle with the balsamic vinegar, gently shaking several times to coat. Add 2 pinches kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste. Remove the tomatoes from the pan to a bowl.
Finish the dish: Mince the garlic. Once the pasta is done, in the same pan, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium low heat. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute until fragrant. Deglaze the pan with ¼ cup pasta water, scraping the pan with a spoon to release all of the flavor of the tomato juices. Turn off the heat.
Add the pasta to the pan and toss to coat. Add the blistered tomatoes, ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese, and basil. Season with 2 pinches of kosher salt and lots of fresh ground pepper. Taste and add more salt if necessary. Serve with the remaining ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top.