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Pasta With No-Cook Cherry Tomato Sauce



2 plates of pasta with sauce in 2 hands
Photograph by Peden + Munk, Food styling by Adriana Paschen, Prop styling by Ceci Garcia

Pasta is an evergreen comfort; it has no season. But during the dog days of summer, the last thing you want is to be sweating over a long-simmering pot of Bolognese. This no-cook cherry tomato sauce delivers bold flavor without the high heat. Salt and acid are all you need to break down and brighten up juicy cherry tomatoes, transforming them into puddles of flavor. Here, instead of simmering crushed red pepper flakes in oil (like many pasta recipes call for) we simply add Calabrian chile paste to the sauce sans heat for instant fully developed flavor. If you can’t find it, substitute 1 Tbsp. miso and a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes instead. Add some cheese, butter, and just enough residual heat from the cooked noodles and you’ll have a rich and clingy sauce that’s sweet, savory, and perfectly punchy. This sauce is also great over grilled shrimp, chicken, or any other protein your heart desires.

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What you’ll need

Recipe information

  • Total Time

    25 minutes

  • Yield

    4 servings


7 garlic cloves, finely grated
1½ lb. cherry tomatoes (about 2 pints), halved
1½ cups (lightly packed) coarsely chopped basil, plus leaves for serving
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp. Calabrian chile paste
2 tsp. Diamond Crystal or 1¼ tsp. Morton kosher salt, plus more
¾ tsp. freshly ground pepper, plus more
12 oz. dried lumache (snail shells) or other medium shell pasta
3 oz. Parmesan, finely grated (about 1½ cups), plus more for serving
5 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into ½" pieces


  1. Step 1

    Combine 7 garlic cloves, finely grated, 1½ lb. cherry tomatoes (about 2 pints), halved, 1½ cups (lightly packed) coarsely chopped basil, ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, 2 Tbsp. Calabrian chile paste, 2 tsp. Diamond Crystal or 1¼ tsp. Morton kosher salt, and ¾ tsp. freshly ground pepper in a large bowl. Using your hands or a potato masher, crush tomatoes to release their juices and break up into small pieces. Let cherry tomato mixture sit at room temperature at least 10 minutes and up to 1 hour.

    Step 2

    Meanwhile, cook 12 oz. dried lumache (snail shells) or other medium shell pasta in a large pot of boiling heavily salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup pasta cooking liquid. Shake pasta to remove excess water; return to pot.

    Step 3

    Immediately add 3 oz. Parmesan, finely grated (about 1½ cups), and 5 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into ½" pieces, to pasta and vigorously stir until butter and cheese are melted. (If pasta seems dry, add some cherry tomato mixture a spoonful at a time as needed and keep stirring until cheese is melted and emulsified.) Add cherry tomato mixture and toss, adding reserved pasta cooking liquid a splash or so at a time as needed, until sauce is creamy and coats pasta. Taste pasta and season with more salt and pepper if needed.

    Step 4

    Divide pasta among shallow bowls and top with more Parmesan and some basil leaves.

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