Pasta with Herby Buttered Tomatoes
Made with a high tomato to pasta ratio, this dish is packed with so much tomato goodness that it should be called Herby Buttered Tomatoes WITH Pasta. The tomatoes are gently simmered in garlicky, oregano-infused butter until they are just cooked through and bordering on jammy, but still retain their fresh, sunshine-y flavor. We love a mixture of cherry tomatoes and bigger heirloom tomatoes cut into large chunks and wedges. The cherry tomatoes burst, remaining whole, while the cut tomatoes release their sweet juices mingling with the butter for a sauce that is lick-the-bowl-clean worthy.
This dish is stunning in its simplicity, but if you are craving something a little extra, the sauce is a great canvas for a variety of add-ins. Here are a few Italian-inspired ideas to get you started:
- Make it Puttanesca-ish: add anchovies in with the butter and stir in a tablespoons of capers, some halved olives and a spoonful of IASA hot pepper in olive oil.
- Create some all'Amatriciana vibes: add a pinch of hot pepper flakes to the tomatoes as they cook and top with crispy bits of guanciale or pancetta and plenty of grated Pecorino Romano cheese.
- Give it the Caprese treatment: stir in cubes of fresh mozzarella with the pasta and tomatoes so they get a little melty, or top with burrata for added indulgence. And, garnish with torn, fresh basil leaves.
- Turn it into a seafood stew: add a pound of cleaned mussels to the buttered tomatoes and cover for the last 3–4 minutes of cooking (or until the mussels open). The liquid from the mussels will make the sauce a little brothier. Add the cooked pasta—try something like Fregola Sarda here—toss and serve.
Recipe, food styling and photography by Asha Loupy
- Prep Time: 30 minutes
- Cook Time: 15 minutes
- Total Time: 45 minutes
- One pound heirloom tomatoes, cut into large chunks and wedges
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into large cubes
- 3 large cloves garlic, very thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon crushed Sicilian Oregano
- 8 ounces whole cherry tomatoes
- 8 ounces short pasta cut from Rustichella d'Abruzzo, like Mezzemaniche
- Bold extra virgin olive oil, such as Frescobaldi Laudemio, for finishing
- Grated Parmiagiano-Reggiano cheese, for finishing
- Fresh basil leaves, for finishing
Place the cut heirloom tomatoes in a medium bowl, sprinkle with a half teaspoon of salt, gently toss and let sit at room temperature for 15 minutes. Set aside.
Once the tomatoes have macerated, bring a large pot of abundantly salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until just al dente, about 1–2 minutes less than the cooking directions on the package.
While the water is coming to a boil and the pasta is cooking, prepare the herby buttered tomato sauce. Add the butter to a large skillet and melt over medium heat. When the butter begins to melt, add the garlic, reducing the heat to medium low. Let the garlic cook, stirring occasionally, until it just starts to soften, about 3–4 minutes. Add the oregano and continue to cook for another minute.
Increase the heat to medium heat and add the reserved salted tomatoes and any juices that have accumulated, the cherry tomatoes and the remaining half teaspoon of salt. Stir to combine and bring to a simmer. Let the tomatoes cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes start to soften and melt into the garlicky butter, about 5–7 minutes. Using the back of a wooden spoon, gently press on each cherry tomato until it gives way and bursts. Reduce the heat to medium low and let the sauce simmer until the pasta is cooked.
Drain the pasta, reserving a quarter cup of the pasta cooking water. Add the drained pasta to the tomatoes, increasing the heat to medium, and stir to coat in the buttery sauce. Cook until the pasta is cooked through, yet still retains a little bit of a bite, about 2 minutes. The finished sauce should be loose and a little brothy. If the sauce is a little too thick, thin with the pasta cooking liquid, adding a tablespoon at a time.
To serve, spoon the pasta and a generous amount of the buttered tomatoes into a shallow bowl. Finish with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, a sprinkling of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and fresh basil leaves.