Pasta with Fresh Tomatoes and Ricotta

August 15, 2018

A quick pasta with fresh tomatoes is one of the sweetest ways to celebrate summer.

It’s especially perfect in late August, when fresh tomatoes bulge from their vines under the hot sun into colorful, juicy rounds that dominate farmer’s markets and grocery stores.

Plus, it’s an easy vegetarian main that comes together in under 30 minutes, so you don’t have to spend too much time sweating over the stove as the air stays punishingly warm outside your kitchen. In fact, the goal of this recipe is to have it on the table before a single droplet appears on your upper lip.

Let’s call it a challenge.

Let’s make Pasta with Fresh Tomatoes

To make this fresh tomato sauce, go outside and gather a few handfuls of cherry tomatoes, whole tomatoes, whatever tomatoes you (or your neighbor, or the grocery store) have. Cut them into bite-sized pieces— whatever that means to you.

Sauté a few cloves of garlic and a couple anchovy filets (optional, but try it!) in shimmering olive oil, then add the tomatoes. Let the tomatoes bask in the pungent oil until their skins wrinkle and their juices condense. Don’t move them around too much, let them sweat blissfully until their edges start to char.

Then season the finished sauce (yep, it’s already finished) with plenty of salt, pepper, and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Cook the pasta until very al dente, then finish cooking it in the sauce. This a perfectly lovely summer meal all on its own, so feel free to stop here.

Or, keep reading.

I like to add spoonfuls of creamy ricotta on top to smooth out the intensity of the sweet, umami tomato sauce (aren’t you glad you kept reading?). The dollops of fluffy, fresh cheese make the dish a bit more special without any additional effort. Pillowy puffs of white crown a deep red mountain of pasta, and you’re left with a simple dinner that looks like a masterpiece.

How do I use fresh basil in pasta?

As a final touch, I garnish the dish with fresh basil, because that’s what I have in my garden, but you can also use mint or oregano. Any fresh herb will invigorate the rich, cooked flavor of the tomatoes. Make sure to tear (and not cut) the basil leaves so they don’t turn brown. Basil is tender and delicious but demands delicate care.

Farfalle pasta with fresh tomatoes and ricotta in a white bowl, garnished with fresh basil

This dish is meant as an homage to the gifts of the season, but the fact that you enhance the tomato’s flavor with anchovy, garlic, and heat means that the recipe can work with out-of-season tomatoes at any time of the year.

A couple notes

  • Make this dinner dairy-free (for the lactose-intolerant among us) by using Minimalist Baker’s Whipped Almond Ricotta— it’s delicious!
  • For a heartier meal, I would suggest cooking up some turkey or beef meatballs on the side. I love Melissa Clark’s recipe.
  • If you’d like a glass of wine, I would suggest Montepulciano. This medium-bodied, juicy red wine was made for a fresh tomato sauce pasta pairing.

Pasta with Fresh Tomatoes and Ricotta

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (1 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)
Dinner American
By Samantha Serves: 4
Prep Time: 10 minutes Cooking Time: 20 minutes Total Time: 30 minutes

Pasta with fresh tomatoes, basil, and ricotta is an easy summer dinner with just a few ingredients. Plus, it comes together in under 30 minutes.


  • 1 cup ricotta cheese, for serving
  • Kosher salt
  • 1lb short pasta such as farfalle or penne
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed, peeled, and sliced
  • 4 anchovy fillets, chopped, about 1 tablespoon (optional)
  • 6 cups cherry, grape, or any kind of tomatoes, halved or cut into bite-sized chunks
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Torn basil or mint leaves, for serving



Transfer the ricotta cheese to a bowl and season lightly with salt. It shouldn't be salty like Parmesan, but it should have some extra flavor. Leave it at room temp while you continue with the recipe.


Bring a large pot of water to boil, salt generously and add the pasta. Cook until the pasta is very al dente, about 2 minutes less than package directions. Drain and reserve 2 cups of the cooking liquid. Return the pasta to the empty pot.


Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the garlic cloves and anchovies and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and toss until evenly coated in the oil/garlic, then cook, undisturbed, until the tomatoes start to burst and char slightly, about 8 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes (use 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes instead if you don't like it spicy). Taste and adjust the seasonings.


Add the tomatoes to the pot with the pasta (be sure to use a spatula to scrape all of that flavorful olive oil into the pot), along with 1 cup of the pasta cooking liquid and turn the heat on medium-low. Finish cooking the pasta in the fresh tomato sauce, tossing constantly for about 2 minutes. Add more pasta cooking liquid if the mixture gets dry. I usually end up adding about 1 1/2 cups pasta water in total.


If the pasta needs more richness, add an extra drizzle of olive oil, and definitely add more salt if necessary.


To serve, transfer the pasta to serving bowls and dot with spoonfuls of ricotta. Sprinkle with a few torn basil or mint leaves and extra cranks of black pepper.


  • 387 Calories


Make this dinner dairy-free by using Minimalist Baker's Whipped Almond Ricotta— it's delicious! For a heartier meal, I would suggest cooking up some turkey or beef meatballs on the side. I love Melissa Clark's recipe. If you'd like a glass of wine, I would suggest Avignonesi Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. This medium-bodied, juicy wine was made for a red sauce pasta pairing.

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  • Reply
    August 15, 2018 at 12:39 pm

    5 stars
    This pasta was beyond creamy~ delicious! Love the use of fresh produce 🙂

    • Reply
      August 15, 2018 at 12:49 pm

      Thank you Martha! 😊

  • Reply
    August 15, 2018 at 12:58 pm

    5 stars
    This was incredibly easy to make for an all-thumbs cook like myself and was incredibly tasty

  • Reply
    August 15, 2018 at 4:24 pm

    5 stars
    My new fave!

  • Reply
    August 15, 2018 at 5:18 pm

    5 stars

  • Reply
    August 15, 2018 at 5:20 pm

    5 stars
    I love how easy this was

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