Speedy Cherry Tomato Sauce

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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.

UPDATE: For variety, I occasionally make this by first sautéing 12 ounces of sausage (turkey or pork), removing the cooked and crumbled sausage to a plate, and then proceeding with the sauce recipe.  When I don’t have fresh basil, I add 1/2 teaspoon of dried oregano or Italian seasoning along with the salt and pepper.  I’ve also added 2 thinly sliced shallots to the oil, cooking to soften, before adding the garlic. (More shallots would be good!) Then I toss in 12 ounces of cooked pasta, sprinkling with grated Parmesan to taste.  A little reserved pasta water is nice to have on hand to loosen after the pasta been sitting a while.😊

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.
Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 cups cherry tomatoes, quartered (2 pints or 1 quart)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 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; see notes)
  • 1 cup fresh mozzarella cheese, diced (about 8 ounces)
Instructions
  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.
Notes
  • 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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Comments

  1. Pingback: The Fountain Avenue Kitchen – Crispy Baked Eggplant

  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

    Reply
  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!

    Reply
  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!
    Cheers,
    Barbara Giacometti!!!

    Reply
  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?

    Reply
    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.

      Reply
  6. Pingback: The Fountain Avenue Kitchen – Polenta Crust Pizza Pie

  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.

    Reply
    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.

      Reply
  8. Pingback: The Fountain Avenue Kitchen – Tuna in Rustic Tomato Sauce

    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.

      Reply
  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

    Reply
  10. Pingback: » Mushroom Ricotta Meatballs Sumptuous Spoonfuls

  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!!

    Reply
    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!

      Reply
    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.

      Reply
  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!

    Reply
    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!

      Reply
    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!

      Reply
  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!!

    Reply
    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!

      Reply
    1. Ann Post author

      Hi Linda, I’m delighted this was a hit! If memory serves, I froze this one time last summer with good results. I’ve also frozen the roasted cherry or grape tomatoes many times with great success.

      Reply
      1. Kasandra

        Great I have a ton of tomatoes to use I’m going to make a triple batch and freeze it for my huge very busy family

        Reply
  14. Carla

    Thank you for your recipe. I am really a beginner and many recipes require a lot which can be overwhelming. I love you for making it sweet, delicious, and easy. I added white rice with broccoli and I am extremely happy. Thank you XOXO

    Reply
    1. Ann Post author

      I’m so happy to read your comment, Carla, and to know that the recipe covered all those bases. Your addition of rice and broccoli sounds perfect!

      Reply
  15. Kathy

    I made this tonight and it was delicious. I had all the ingredients on hand. Picked some fresh basil from the garden and used angel hair pasta. It came together very quickly. I can’t wait for fresh tomatoes to start coming in. I’ll be making this a lot! Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
    1. Ann Post author

      So glad that you’ll be making again, Kathy…and it’s so nice to have fresh basil ready to pick again!

      Reply
    1. Ann Post author

      Hi Debbie, I have frozen this sauce but haven’t canned it. It should be fine with high pressure canning, but tomatoes are borderline in terms of pH (and, therefore, food safety) with regular stovetop canning. I hope that helps!

      Reply
  16. Cheryl

    I took your recipe and added Italian seasoning, cooking white wine and some flour to thicken the sauce just a bit. It’s smells absolutely divine! Can’t wait to use it with some fresh cooked zucchini!! Thanks for the recipe!!

    Reply
  17. Lori

    Wow this sauce is delicious. I served it over spiralized zucchini with mushrooms and grilled chicken and topped with fresh grated Parmesan cheese

    Reply
  18. Beth Grant

    Looks amazing. Never know what to do with aaall those cherry tomatoes. But they’re so sweet! Ty! Great idea! Trying this weekend. Love the sausage pork or other options for flavor quality and bulk. Bon appetite!!

    Reply
  19. Patricia

    Made this tonight. Totally awesome! My hubby loved it.
    Will now be my easy last minute meal. May try adding shrimp
    to the mix.

    Reply
    1. Ann Post author

      Hi Lauri, I haven’t canned this myself, but I would recommend high pressure canning for tomatoes, as their pH is low and an acid like lemon juice usually needs to be added with the hot water bath method. Also, this sauce does freeze well if you have the freezer space!

      Reply
    1. Ann Post author

      Hi Patrice, The pH would be borderline low for the hot water bath method, so I would recommend high pressure canning to be safe. The sauce does freeze well, too.

      Reply
  20. Jim

    Thanks for the recipe. Often at grocer I see these colorful large cherry tomatoes and wonder if I could simply make marina with them along with garlic (onions?) and other in your recipe. I often have to add a bit more sugar, also I heard lemon juice (little) is good for balancing? Going to try soon and since have larger group, may supplement with can crushed tomatoes…(oh, and perhaps some red wine!)…

    Reply
    1. Ann Post author

      Hi Jim, Coincidently, I made a half batch of this last night with tomatoes that needed to be used and served alongside zucchini fritters. It was a good combination! Store-bought tomatoes, especially in the off-season, can be less sweet than height-of-the-season tomatoes, so you may like an extra pinch or two of sugar with them. You can add lemon juice, although the tart addition may make you feel like you want a touch more sugar, too. A light squeeze would be nice, as would a drizzle of balsamic vinegar – or red wine as you say. Onions are certainly fair game, too. I’d cook them down a bit before adding the garlic. I tend to keep this sauce easy, and it never disappoints. Hope you enjoy as well!

      Reply
  21. Michael

    I’ve been using your recipe for 3 years now. I look forward to making this sauce every year when the tomatoes come in from the garden. Thanks for putting this out! I would like to note that some tomatoes are naturally sweet enough where you don’t need to add any sugar at all. Not adding the sugar to the recipe also allows you to eliminate 1/2 the amount of salt needed. It’s a bit healthier this way, and honestly lets the flavors of the tomatoes really shine!

    Reply
    1. Ann Post author

      Michael, I love that you’ve returned to this recipe year after year! The small bit of sugar may certainly be omitted, and I appreciate your taking a moment to mention. I hope you enjoy many batches this season!

      Reply
  22. Michael

    Once again fresh and simple ingredients win the day. I made some pappardelle to use and cooked it in the sauce. I loved it!

    Reply
  23. Dave

    This was OUTSTANDING. My wife and I both agreed that this sauce would rival that of a high end authentic Italian restaurant or grandmas Italian kitchen. Thank you for sharing.

    Reply
  24. Michelle K

    Just read all the comments. Can’t wait to make several batches with a ton of cherry tomatoes from a neighor’s bounty. I was wondering how putting it through a strainer would work after cooking to get rid of some of the skins? We don’t want too many skins, but don’t mind some.

    We also plan to freeze a bunch, so I was happy to hear it freezes well, even with the skins which concerned me a bit!

    Reply
    1. Michelle K

      P.s. I do wish it printed better on one page. (I find this alot with recipes!) I tried to put it to 70%, and it’s so it’s hard to read, yet I have a ton of wasted white space on the page, esp on the right side.

      Reply
      1. Ann Post author

        I’m sorry for any aggravation. I provide the print option for convenience and try to balance the readability with other reader requests – all while working within certain templates. To get around this here and on other sites where you have a similar issue, you could cut and paste the recipe text onto a Word document or email. Oftentimes, this simple action will reformat the type into something that’s more concise. Or you could simply delete the extra spaces once pasted. Hopefully, this will help somewhat.

        Reply
    2. Ann Post author

      Hi Michelle, How wonderful that a neighbor shared! I’m glad you found this recipe (coincidently I made two batches this morning), and I hope you enjoy it as much as we do. The skins do soften nicely and provide a good bit of the structure to the sauce. You could try straining, although I’ve blended a similar recipe with great results.

      Reply
    1. Ann Post author

      Hi Cyndi, Because the pH for tomatoes is borderline in terms of water bath canning (unless you add an acid like lemon juice), I recommend freezing it or high pressure canning.

      Reply
  25. Beverly A Money

    I haven’t used this recipe yet but I’m going to use it tonight. It smells Wonderful! And it tastes it so good too!

    Reply
    1. Ann Post author

      Hi Linda, I’ve had success freezing a variety of tomato sauces with no modification to the recipe. I used to freeze the sauce in Tupperware-type freezer containers, but more recently I’ve begun using canning jars, leaving a little head space at the top to allow for expansion. Feel free to use whichever container you prefer. Also, I like to cool the sauce completely in the uncovered freezer containers in the refrigerator. Then I add the lid when the sauce is cold and before I transfer to the freezer. That way, you won’t get ice on the lids from condensation.

      Reply