This 3-Ingredient Plant-Based Pomodoro Pasta Recipe Is a Lifeline in the Summertime

Photo: Stocksy/Davide Illini
The scent of fresh basil, wild blackberries, and worn-in Birkenstocks can only mean one thing: It's peak farmers market season. If this sentiment sparks joy—meaning you're always on the lookout for quick and easy ways to turn fresh, seasonal ingredients into delicious home-cooked meals—we come bearing great news for the many bushels of summer produce you're about to lug home, starting with your tomatoes.

While you can't go wrong with kale, eggplant, or zucchini, nothing screams summer to me quite like a rosey-red handful of tomatoes. I grew up eating cherry tomatoes straight off the vine in my grandpa’s garden, and those memories coupled with their versatility have made tomatoes—cherry and grape in particular—a summer kitchen staple for me.

While I always keep a bowl of them on the counter to snack on, this three-ingredient summer pasta is my favorite way to eat in-season tomatoes. It’s a simpler, lighter version of pasta pomodoro that makes the tomatoes the star of the show, complementing them with the sweetness of fresh basil and nuttiness from a couple cloves of garlic, all of which is brought together by a dash of your favorite olive oil. For a savory finish, top with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese or nutritional yeast if you want to keep it plant-based.

Now that I live in the city, getting tomatoes straight from the source isn’t an option, but I can still get a farm-fresh carton at my local farmers market. You can pick up all the ingredients in one trip, making it a quick and convenient way to bring the taste and smell of summer into your home—or someone else's. (On that note, this is a great big-batch recipe and the perfect crowd-pleaser. Let it be known for future summer get-togethers!)

3-ingredient summer pasta recipe

Yields 3-4 servings


10 ounces of ripe grape or cherry tomatoes
2 large cloves of garlic
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil (plus extra for finishing)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 handful of fresh basil


  1. Wash and halve tomatoes, then peel the garlic cloves and crush them using the flat side of your knife. Slice thinly, and set aside.
  2. Add the olive oil to a pan and turn your stove to medium heat. (If you have a wooden spoon on hand, dip the end in the oil periodically. Once you notice small bubbles forming around it, it’s hot enough to start frying your garlic.) Add the chopped garlic to the oil and fry on medium for 4-5 minutes. It’s important to keep a close eye on the garlic’s color.
  3. Now, the fun part. Once the garlic is translucent, add tomato halves to the pan. Use a spoon (a wooden one works best) to squish each halve and release the juices. This should take about 5-10 minutes and will get easier the longer the tomatoes have been over the heat.
  4. Add the salt and pepper and let simmer on medium low heat for about 15 minutes. Now's a good time to start boiling water in a separate pot for the pasta.
  5. After you’ve added the pasta to the boiling water, give it a stir and allow to cook for about five minutes. Then, add a ladle-full (about 3/4 cup) of the pasta water to your sauce.
  6. Allow the sauce to simmer for 5-10 minutes before adding the pasta. Stir to combine and serve while hot.
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