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After the chaos of the holidays, sometimes a quick and easy pantry pasta is all you can muster. This creamy tomato pasta leans on pantry staples like garlic, shallots, tomato paste, and red pepper flakes to pack a punch. The best part? It comes together in under 30 minutes. It’s similar to a classic vodka sauce, but uses dry white wine (try Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio) instead of vodka for a more nuanced flavor. If you’re steering clear of booze, you can use a splash of chicken or vegetable stock in its place. 

Related Reading: Spaghetti Carbonara Is the Weeknight Pasta You’ll Make On Repeat

The Secret to Great Pasta Sauce is Starchy Pasta Water

Before you drain the pasta, make sure to reserve at least ½ cup of water in a glass measuring cup. When the pasta cooks in that salty water, some of the starch is released, making the water the perfect thickener and the key to silky-smooth sauces. This recipe calls for ¼ cup of water, but if you want a thinner sauce, just add more until you get the desired texture.

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The Correct Way to Store Basil

Unless you have an herb garden on hand (which let’s face it, most of us don’t), keeping herbs fresh is the bane of existence for many home cooks. This creamy tomato pasta gets topped with freshly torn basil leaves, which add a welcome peppery brightness to cut the fat of the heavy cream. In order to keep that fresh basil flavor, it has to be stored properly.  Place a bunch of basil in a cup of water, removing any leaves that might rot in the water, and top it loosely with a plastic bag. Make sure to keep the basil on your counter at room temperature—the coldness of the refrigerator will result in basil with dark spots.

Creamy Tomato Pasta Recipe

This tomato pasta not only uses up a handful of pantry staples, but it also comes together in under 30 minutes. Make extra to guarantee leftovers—we promise you’re going to want some tomorrow.

Creamy Tomato Pasta

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Prep Time: 10 minutesCook Time: 20 minutesServes: 2-4
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large shallot, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ teaspoon of red pepper flakes
  • ¼ cup dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 12 ounces pound pasta of choice
  • 1 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more to serve
  • Flaky sea salt, to serve
  • Basil leaves, roughly torn, to serve
  1. In a large pan over medium high heat, add the butter and olive oil. Once the oil begins to shimmer, add the shallots and cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened and aromatic.
  2. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for 1 minute, until fragrant.
  3. Add the white wine and cook for 2 minutes, until the alcohol has evaporated.
  4. Add the tomato paste and cook for 3 minutes, stirring often, until deeply caramelized.
  5. Add the heavy cream, salt, and pepper, and stir to combine. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes, until slightly thickened.
  6. Meanwhile, prepare pasta according to package instructions in a pot of salted water until al dente, reserving ½ cup pasta water.
  7. Add the drained pasta, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and ¼ cup of the pasta water to the sauce, stirring until the sauce has fully coated all the noodles. For a thinner sauce, add more water.
  8. Serve the pasta with more Parmigiano-Reggiano, flaky sea salt, and basil.

Header image by Alexis deBoschnek.

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