Spaghettini with Burst Cherry Tomatoes & Basil


I feel like I’m performing something of a culinary magic trick when I make this simple pasta. As ripe cherry tomatoes cook in warm olive oil, their skins burst open, the sweet juices bubble away, mingling with the oil, and just like that — in the little time it takes to boil your pasta and chop a few herbs — you’ve created a silky, sumptuous sauce. Creamy fresh ricotta and a sprinkle of Parmigiano-Reggiano add a luxe touch to the pasta. And, since the cheeses are added just before serving, it’s easy to leave them out if you don’t eat dairy. I use spaghettini (which lies about halfway between spaghetti and angel hair in thickness), but any long thin pasta works just as well.


  • 1 pound spaghettini or other long thin pasta
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup olive oil, plus more for serving
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
  • 2 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 3 pints cherry tomatoes (about 2 pounds)
  • 1-1/2 cups loosely packed torn basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 3/4 cup fresh whole-milk ricotta cheese (about 6 ounces)
  • Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese for serving
  • Coarsely ground black pepper


Cook the pasta in a large pot of well-salted boiling water until al dente.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a 12-inch skillet or wide, heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion begins to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the red pepper flakes, then stir in the tomatoes and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until most of the tomatoes have burst, 6 to 8 minutes.

Reserving 1 cup of the pasta cooking liquid, drain the pasta. Add the pasta, along with the reserved pasta cooking water, to the pan with the sauce. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until the pasta is coated, about 30 seconds, then stir in the basil and parsley.

Divide the pasta among serving plates. Dollop with the ricotta and sprinkle with Parmesan and black pepper to taste. Drizzle with oil and serve immediately.

*Chef Tech: Salting pasta water is a vital first step in ensuring pasta is properly seasoned. A good rule of thumb for 1 pound of pasta is to use 4 quarts of water and 1 1/2 to 3 tablespoons of kosher or fine sea salt (I generally settle on 2). Stir the salt into the rapidly boiling water just before adding the pasta, to ensure that it dissolves immediately (salt is corrosive and can otherwise “pit” and damage your pot). Return the water to a full boil, then add your noodles.