Speedy Cherry Tomato Sauce

This is the sort of easy summer cooking I love:  basic, fresh ingredients coming together as something altogether pleasing in a few short minutes.  Although perfect over pasta–and I have included a simple, “every-night” recipe along with the sauce instructions below–this sauce is incredibly versatile.  Use your imagination to create quick, flavorful meals based on what you love.

I particularly enjoy this rustic sauce over roasted or grilled eggplant, zucchini, and mushrooms. Consider picking your grain of preference, be it quinoa or brown rice, and creating your own option to the traditional pasta dinner.  After cooking the grain, add the grilled or roasted veggies (even leftovers work well), stir in some of this chunky sauce, adding any other flavor boosters that may appeal.  Mozzarella or feta cheese and Kalamata olives pair particularly well and make a simple combination of ingredients a little extra special.

Speedy Cherry Tomato Sauce is also delicious on this recipe for Deconstructed Eggplant Parmesan, and I have a new all-in-one seafood spin on this recipe coming soon.

Speedy Cherry Tomato 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.

Yields 4 - 6 servings; approximately 20 ounces of cooked sauce.
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  1. 1/4 cup olive oil
  2. 4 garlic cloves, minced
  3. 4 cups cherry tomatoes, quartered (2 pints or 1 quart)
  4. 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  5. 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  6. 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  7. 1/4 cup lightly packed fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces
If serving with pasta
  1. 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; see notes)
  2. 1 cup fresh mozzarella cheese, diced (about 8 ounces)
  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 total.
  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 and add the reserved pasta water, 1/4 cup at a time, until the pasta is moist. Garnish with additional basil, if desired.
  1. 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.
The Fountain Avenue Kitchen https://fountainavenuekitchen.com/

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  2. Lanie

    this is so up my ally! going out to the garden right now to pick the tomatoes and make the sauce for the kids dinner tonight. Yummm

  3. Suzanne

    My 8 yo son, who “hates” tomatoes LOVES this recipe. He specifically requested it last week. It’s making our nightly routine – great for this vegetarian! Thanks, Ann!

  4. barbara Giacometti

    Bring on the Pasta!! looks fabulous Ann!

    Now, I must ask, where did you get your social icons across the bottom of your website? I am needing some serious updates on my blog and your’s looks great!
    Barbara Giacometti!!!

  5. Jenn

    I see a cast iron skillet up there, full of acidic tomatoes…HOW DOES YOUR SAUCE NOT END UP TASTING METALLIC?! I’m pretty new to cast iron cooking, but I’ve found that if I use vinegar or tomatoes in the dish, the whole thing will end up with a metallic taste. How do you avoid this?

    1. Ann

      Hi Jenn,
      Maybe your skillet isn’t well seasoned. Try coating the clean pan liberally with oil (any cooking oil; I typically use olive oil) and baking it in a 350 F oven for two hours. This will season the pan more quickly. Then, every time you heat oil in it, the seasoning will be improved. You can also do the oven seasoning more than once. I hope this helps…I think once you do this you will really love your skillet. It becomes truly nonstick.

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  7. Elaine

    Ann this recipe was well timed. I had a big crop of cherry tomatoes wondering what to do with them. Now I know. Made this dish tonight and both my husband and I felt we were eating at a fine Italian restaurant. I roasted skinless, boneless chicken thighs and served the sauce on top of whole grain penne pasta, topped with the chicken and grated a little asiago cheese on top – perfection. So easy.
    Thanks for yet another keeper.

    1. Ann

      There’s nothing like eating a 5-start meal in your very own kitchen, and I love your addition of roasted chicken thighs. Thank you for the great comment, Elaine…and stay tuned to a another recipe using cherry or grape tomatoes coming soon.

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    1. Ann

      I have yet to freeze this sauce, Heidi. I make it when I have enough tomatoes and then we eat it all…but I do think it would freeze very well.

  9. Sue

    I made this speedy sauce last night with your deconstructed eggplant parm, WOW!! It was amazing, my husband kept saying “there are so many interesting flavors.” Thanks for another wonderful recipe. Love your website

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  11. Kelly

    Just made this sauce for the first time….first of all…I work long hours, and one of the things I love to do (as crazy as it sounds) is come home, turn on my favorite music, pour a drink, and cook! This was super fun to cook, didn’t take super long, and tasted delicious! I loved it! I made the sauce with zucchini noodles, but I can’t wait to make it for my husband with regular pasta as well! Well done Ann! I will definitely be saving this recipe and making it again!!

    1. Ann Post author

      Hi Kelly, I think your evening routine sounds like the perfect way to relax after a long workday, and I’m so glad this recipe didn’t let you down! Thanks so much for taking a moment to let me know, and I’m delighted it’s a keeper!

    1. Ann Post author

      Hi Elva, I’m not sure of the pH of this recipe so lemon juice would be an added assurance if canning. In that case, you’d likely want to add a bit of sugar when ready to eat it.

  12. Melissa gibbs

    My mother’s garden is exploding with cherry tomatoes and these cute little hybrids called “chocolate sprinkles” I bought her the plants for Mother’s Day 2017. Along with basil from her garden this sauce was an excellent dish we prepared last night together! Only thing I added was a little sprinkle of Italian seasonings and a zucchini from her garden. My picky father even went in for seconds! We sautéed some organic chicken and made the sauce served with tri colored pasta and some mozzarella pearls. Delish! Thanks for posting!

    1. Ann Post author

      First of all, I love that the tomatoes were a Mother’s Day gift (with a great name!) and that you cooked the meal together. The way you served the sauce sounds divine, and I’m thrilled it was a hit. Thanks so much for the terrific feedback, Melissa!

    1. Ann Post author

      For a similar option without the skins, you could try the sauce with an equal amount of chopped plum tomatoes that you have skinned by briefly dipping in boiling water. Glad you enjoyed the flavor!

  13. Sharon

    Made this for dinner tonight and have to tell you…it was delicious! Followed recipe but didn’t have fresh basil so just sprinkled some dried basil on and it was still great. Even used my seasoned cast iron skillet..didn’t want to do anything different from the recipe. My husband watched me and was making faces and said he was going to order a pizza and I said just wait, he was really glad he did. He loved it! It’s been several hours and he’s still raving over it. Thanks so much for the recipe. It’s a must have!!

    1. Ann Post author

      I love your comment, Sharon, especially the part about your skeptical husband making faces and then loving it. So many of us can appreciate that! I’m delighted this was a hit. Thanks for taking a moment to let me know!