A bowl of creamy tomato basil pasta garnished with small, green, fresh basil leaves.
Pastas, Vegetarian

Creamy Tomato Basil Pasta

Creamy Tomato Basil Pasta is the perfect weeknight meal! This pasta is satisfying and delicious, straightforward to make, and will be on the table in 30 minutes! Serve with your favorite protein or dig in, as is!

I love how unfussy this dish is. You can modify this recipe to your hearts desire and it will always turn out great! Although my recipe calls for fresh tomatoes, you can totally sub a can of tomatoes in a pinch. The same goes for the fresh basil. Obviously, fresh is best but work with whatever you have; experiment! Sometimes the best signature recipes are discovered this way.

A table-side view of Tomato Basil Orecchiette. A red based sauce, topper with green basil leaves, and finely grated white cheese.

What you’ll need to make Creamy Tomato Basil Pasta:

  • dry pasta of your choice (I used orecchiette from De Cecco)
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • onion
  • fresh garlic
  • fresh small variety tomatoes 
  • red chili flakes 
  • tomato paste
  • freshly ground pepper
  • kosher salt 
  • half and half
  • fresh basil 
  • Parmigiano Reggiano 

Looking for more quick and simple weeknight recipes? Give these a whirl!

A yellow strainer full of cherry tomatoes that have just been washed.

Possible add-in ideas:

  • bell peppers
  • sun-dried tomatoes
  • zucchini
  • roasted red peppers
  • mushrooms
  • eggplant
  • olives
  • arugula
  • spinach
  • ricotta
  • smoked mozzarella
  • capers
  • dried oregano
A bowl of creamy tomato basil pasta garnished with small, green, fresh basil leaves.

Creamy Tomato Basil Pasta

Sacha Hirschfeld
This weeknight pasta is satisfying, straightforward, and will be on the table in 30 minutes! Serve with your favorite protein or dig in, as is!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Pastas
Cuisine Italian
Servings 4


  • 1 large pot
  • 1 strainer or spider strainer
  • 1 large sauté pan or skillet
  • 1 chefs knife
  • 1 cutting board
  • 1 wooden spoon
  • measuring cups
  • measuring spoons
  • 1 box grater


  • 1 lb pasta of your choice short noodle suggested
  • 4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ onion finely chopped; I used red because that's what I had
  • 5 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 lb small variety tomatoes halved or quartered
  • ½ tsp red chili flakes optional
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • ½ tsp freshly ground pepper
  • kosher salt for pasta water and seasoning
  • 2 cups half and half
  • 1 cup fresh basil chopped; a few smaller leaves reserved for garnish
  • Parmigiano Reggiano freshly grated, for serving; may use Pecorino


  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat; I'm talking a solid 2-3 tablespoons. While the water comes to a boil, let's make this sauce.
  • Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion and sauté until softened and translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes (if using), and sauté until fragrant, 30 seconds to 1 minute. 
  • Add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 9 minutes or according to package instructions.
  • Add the quartered tomatoes, and sprinkle with salt and pepper; stir to combine. Cook, while stirring occasionally until the tomatoes start to break down, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste, and stir until everything is coated. Add a bit of pasta water if the pan starts to burn.
  • Turn the heat down to low, and stir in half & half. Taste; adjust seasoning as needed with salt and pepper.
  • Drain the pasta and transfer to the sauce; toss gently to combine. Add the basil, toss once more, and serve immediately with grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino Romano. Garnish with fresh basil leaves.
Keyword Tomato Based Sauce, Vegetarian, Weeknight Dinner

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