Speedy Cherry Tomato Sauce
Yield: 4 - 6 servings; approximately 20 ounces of cooked sauce
When cherry tomatoes are plentiful, I adore this quick-cooking chunky sauce on pizza, pasta, roasted eggplant, or by the spoonful! Don't hesitate to get creative and use it over rice, quinoa, and/or sautéed zucchini. The flavors are even better the second day, so feel free to prepare in advance. If making ahead, sprinkle the basil on just before serving to retain its bright green color.


  • ¼ cup (56ml) olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 cups cherry tomatoes*, halved or quartered if large (2 pints or 1 quart)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon sugar
  • ¼ cup lightly packed fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces

If serving with pasta:

  • 12-16 ounces** fusilli, rotini, penne, or other short spiral or tubular pasta, cooked according to package directions (reserve a cup of pasta cooking water)
  • 1 cup fresh mozzarella cheese, diced (about 8 ounces) or freshly grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano to taste


  1. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté 1 minute or until fragrant but not turning brown.
  2. Add the tomatoes, salt, pepper, and sugar. As the tomatoes cook and soften, mash them with a fork to help them form a chunky, rustic sauce. Cook the tomatoes for approximately 5-6 minutes or until the tomatoes have broken down and the juices are incorporated.
  3. Sprinkle with torn basil before serving.
  4. If serving with pasta, transfer the tomato sauce to a bowl with the pasta, and toss to combine.
  5. Stir in the mozzarella, if using, and add the reserved pasta water, ¼ cup at a time, until the pasta is moist. Optionally, you may grate cheese of choice over the finished pasta. Garnish with additional basil, if desired.


I’ve also made this sauce with grape tomatoes and it’s excellent. They tend to have less moisture than cherry tomatoes, so the finished sauce will be slightly chunkier.

** Choose the amount of pasta based on whether you like your pasta extra saucy or not. I like a high ratio of sauce to pasta so use the lesser amount of pasta.


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