This easy pasta dish comes together in less than 15 minutes with a fresh tomato sauce made even healthier with whole wheat pasta and spinach that’s topped with ricotta cheese. This is where healthy meets happy!
I’ve grown tomatoes in my garden for years. But the past few seasons have seen a steady downward spiral of yield thanks to my neighbor’s growing trees and some dastardly devilish varmints who snatch up the lessening fruit they finally yield. My tomato crop at the end of summer has turned into a total bummer crop instead of my oh-so-wishful bumper crop.
But I’m not going to let my less-than-stellar farmer skills get in the way of eating fresh tomatoes however I can. Between farmers markets and the farmer down the street, I’m keeping flush with my tomato loving ways.
This warm pasta dish is one of my favorite simple lunch or dinner recipes, and one reason I’m bound to this end-of-summer crop. It’s a bit like a caprese pasta but uses ricotta cheese instead of mozzarella.
The “sauce” is made with fresh tomatoes steeped in olive oil and garlic then added to the warm pasta so there’s hardly any cooking to do at all. It’s the perfect recipe for when you’re short on time but still want real good, real food on the table.
What’s in This Fresh Tomato Sauce Pasta?
This pasta with fresh tomato sauce came about because I was hungry (verging on hangry) for lunch. With fresh tomatoes sitting on my counter, basil growing on the deck, and fresh ricotta cheese sitting in the fridge, this super simple recipe was ready in a snap.
The ingredient list for this recipe is short and sweet:
- whole wheat pasta
- fresh tomatoes
- fresh spinach
- ricotta cheese
- Parmesan cheese
- extra virgin olive oil
Use any type pasta for this recipe in traditional semolina or try going with whole wheat. When it comes to whole wheat pasta, I use DeLallo whole wheat pasta to keep my healthy carbs in check. DeLallo’s whole wheat is the only brand of whole wheat pasta I eat because it doesn’t get mealy or tough when cooking. I like to use the farfalle. It has just enough ridges and valleys to gather the light sauce the fresh tomatoes create as they meet the heat of the pan and the garlic-infused olive oil.
During summer’s harvest, or even during winter time, I like the medium size cocktail tomatoes for this no-cook pasta sauce. They come in clusters on the vine and taste extra juicy and sweet. If you’re using a regular, homegrown garden variety tomato, make sure they’re cut into large chunks to make eating easier.
For the fresh garlic, either mince or press the garlic, just make sure you don’t cook it too hot in the olive oil or it will become bitter.
Spinach is my most likely addition to a quick pasta like this, but any leafy green will do. Arugula and swiss chard would add a particularly nice and spunky bite.
I LOVE the creaminess fresh ricotta adds to any dish (I add it to my scrambled eggs for breakfast), so adding a dollop to the cooked pasta added a creamy texture without adding the heft of fat and extra calories. Ricotta is lower in fat but also high in calcium, so for me, adding it to dishes like this is a no brainer.
How to Make Fresh Tomato Pasta
First up, cook the pasta according to package instructions. Whole wheat pasta takes a little longer to cook, but go ahead and drain it from the water when it still has quite a bit of bite.
For the most flavor, I toss the whole wheat pasta directly into the pan with the fresh tomatoes, spinach, and garlic so it can cook right along with it, soaking up all the flavors. Just a few minutes together will do the trick. Add a tablespoon or two of reserved pasta water at this stage if you like a more saucy pasta.
Sprinkle with fresh grated Parmesan, torn basil leaves, and freshly ground black pepper and more ricotta if desired. You bet I desire.
Can I Add Other Veggies to This Pasta?
Of course! Any garden fresh veggie will taste spectacular with the no-cook fresh tomato pasta sauce. Sliced zucchini, onion, mushrooms, and more would all be solid additions.
Can I Use Another Type of Pasta?
Absolutely, use any pasta you have on hand. If you’re gluten-free, use a certified gluten-free pasta instead.
Tips for Making Fresh Tomato Pasta
Fresh, in-season tomatoes are key to this recipe. You can use any variety of tomato you have on hand, just make sure to cut the tomato into bite-size pieces so it’s easier to eat and cooks down quicker.
Play around with the other ingredients as well. You can add different type of cheese, additional herbs, whatever you like.
If you have leftovers of this fresh tomato pasta, I recommend reheating them with a drizzle of olive oil or water in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Microwaving pasta is a guaranteed way to dry it out, so avoid using one if possible.
More Easy Pasta Recipes to Try
- Shrimp Scampi Pasta
- Pasta with Turkey Sausage and Peas
- Easy Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo
- One-Pot Penne Pasta with Turkey and Spinach
- Homemade Pesto Pasta
If you make this recipe, please let me know! Bookmark this recipe and leave a comment below, or take a photo and tag me on Instagram with #foodiecrusheats.
Pasta with Fresh Tomato Sauce and Ricotta Cheese
- 8 ounces whole wheat pasta , (I use farfalle)
- ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic , minced or pressed
- 1 pound cocktail size tomatoes , (about 8-10 tomatoes), quartered
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups fresh spinach leaves
- ⅓ cup fresh basil , slivered
- ½ cup Parmesan cheese , grated
- 1 cup fresh ricotta cheese
- Cook the whole wheat pasta in salted water 1 minute less than the package directions, so pasta is done, but al dente. Drain and reserve ¼ cup of the pasta water.
- In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. When hot, add the minced garlic and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook for about 5 minutes until oil becomes fragrant, stirring often. Be sure to watch the garlic so it doesn’t burn.
- Add the tomatoes with any juice and season with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Cook for 2-3 minutes until warmed through.
- Add the drained hot pasta to the tomatoes. Add the fresh spinach and toss =until spinach begins to wilt. Add the fresh basil leaves, grated parmesan cheese and more kosher salt and pepper to taste. If the pasta seems dry, add more olive oil or 1-2 tablespoons of pasta water to the pasta mixture.
- Top with dollops of fresh ricotta, drizzle with more olive oil, and serve warm.
More Italian Recipes to Make
- Harvest Squash and Ricotta Stuffed Shells
- My Mom’s Homemade Spaghetti and Meat Sauce
- Italian Spaghetti Pasta Salad
- Gnocchi with Pomodoro Sauce
- Sausage and Ricotta Lasagna
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