Delicious tomato and ricotta pasta with basil. A simple dish perfect for a fast weeknight meal; the sauce will be ready by the time the pasta is cooked.
This cherry tomato and ricotta pasta dish is one of our favorite summer pasta dishes. I often use cherry tomatoes that grow in my garden and the basil from the pot on the windowsill. A quick meal that my family loves.
But don’t make pasta with ricotta and tomatoes just for the family! The dish is also perfect for an uncomplicated dinner with friends, simple and quick to make, yet elegant, interesting, and bursting with flavor.
- Pasta: I used linguine, but spaghetti is just as good. Or any pasta shapes you like; it won’t matter if you use short or long noodles.
- Ricotta: A good quality brand. Cheaper, no-name brands are ok when it comes to flavor but tend to be grainier when heated. I’ve always had good results (regarding creaminess) when using Galbani (not sponsored, just my experience).
- Flavor: The extra flavor comes from the garlic, capers, red pepper flakes, and fresh basil.
How to make ricotta tomato pasta?
- Cook pasta according to the package instructions. Before you drain it, reserve about one cup of the cooking water.
- Make the sauce while the pasta cooks.
- Chop all the ingredients that need chopping and set them aside.
Roast the garlic cloves in olive oil (1). Add the halved cherry tomatoes and stir them for about 2 minutes until they begin to soften (2).
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- Cook sauce: Add salt, capers, red pepper flakes, and half of the chopped basil (3). Cook gently until the tomatoes are soft, 5-6 minutes (4).
- Combine: Add ricotta, ½ cup pasta water, and linguine to the pan (5). Stir gently to combine. Add more water if necessary.
- Adjust the taste with salt and pepper, stir in the remaining basil and serve immediately (6).
- Grate some Parmesan on top.
- Cook some chopped bacon together with the tomatoes and the garlic.
- Replace the basil with a small bunch of chopped arugula. Add it all during the last minute of the cooking time.
- When cooking this dish for guests, you could cook some garlic shrimp in another pan and serve them on top of the ricotta tomato pasta.
- Don’t forget to reserve some of the pasta cooking water, about 1 cup. You will not need it all, but it’s better to save a bit more than to miss it when you need it.
- The starches in the water help the sauce stick to the linguine and also make the sauce creamier.
If you don’t have cherry tomatoes, you can use regular ones. Make sure they are ripe and flavorful; the dish depends on the quality of the ingredients. Deseed the tomatoes and chop them roughly; the pieces should be about the size of ½ a cherry tomato.
The dish tastes great when cooked with cream cheese instead of ricotta. A slightly different flavor, but you will love it.
A bit of graininess is unavoidable when using ricotta; that’s why I recommend using a good brand. You can reduce that by straining the cheese through a cheesecloth for a few hours, but really I never bother; we love the sauce just the way it is.
Tomato ricotta pasta is best served immediately. However, you can store the leftovers in an airtight container for 3-4 days.
Reheat them in the microwave or on the stovetop before serving. When reheating, add a splash of milk to loosen the sauce and stir well.
The dish is not suitable for freezing.
What to serve with it?
I always make a simple green salad with vinaigrette dressing.
More quick pasta dishes
Easy Tomato and Ricotta Pasta
- Large pot
- Large skillet/frying pan
- 1 lb linguine 450 g
- 14 oz cherry tomatoes 400 g, Note 1
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 ½ tablespoons capers
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 9 oz ricotta 250 g
- small bunch of basil
- fine sea salt and ground black pepper
- Cook pasta according to the package instructions. Reserve about 1 cup of water and drain the rest (Note 2).
- Make the sauce while the pasta cooks.
- Chopping: Halve the cherry tomatoes and set them aside. Peel the garlic, leave the cloves whole, but crush them lightly with your palm. Roughly chop the capers and set them aside. Chop the basil and set it aside.
- Roast garlic: Heat the oil in a large pan or skillet. Roast the garlic cloves for a couple of minutes, flipping them a few times in between, until they are golden.
- Cook tomatoes: Add the tomatoes and stir on high heat for about 2 minutes. Add a good pinch of salt, chopped capers, red pepper flakes, and half of the chopped basil. Stir and cook on medium-low heat for 5-6 minutes until the tomatoes are soft.
- Combine: Add ricotta, about ½ cup of the reserved pasta cooking water, and pasta to the pan and stir gently for about 1 minute to heat the sauce through. Add an extra splash of the cooking water if necessary to thin the sauce.
- Stir in the remaining basil, adjust the taste with salt and pepper and serve immediately.
- Cherry tomatoes are best, but if you don’t have them, you can use regular ripe and flavorful ones. Deseed and chop them roughly; the pieces should be about the size of ½ a cherry tomato.
- You will not need it all. You will need ½ cup + a little bit more if required to thin the sauce.