Creamy Tomato Pasta

updated Aug 5, 2022
Creamy Tomato Pasta

A quick and easy weeknight pasta that's tossed in tomato cream sauce and finished with chopped fresh basil.

Serves4 to 6

Prep5 minutes

Cook15 minutes to 25 minutes

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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Sometimes the only thing that can solve a long, hectic weekday is a splash of cream. In those cases, turn to this comforting pasta. Al dente noodles, such as bow-tie pasta, are tossed in a quick tomato cream sauce and finished with lots of chopped fresh basil and grated Parmesan for the kind of meal the whole family can agree on. It will put a smile of everyone’s face, no matter the kind of day they had.

An Easy Weeknight Pasta That’s Just Rich Enough

This quick and easy dinner is inspired by penne alla vodka, but made simpler with fewer ingredients — namely, the vodka. I assure you, it won’t be missed, and the omission makes it more kid-friendly.

While there are ways to make any pasta sauce, this pasta sauce is just four ingredients: onion, garlic, a can of crushed tomatoes, and cream. That last ingredient is what makes the sauce extra special, but it’s not poured with a heavy hand. A generous splash is really all you need to add richness to the sauce without making this dinner feel too indulgent. The result is a comforting pasta dinner that will likely become a habit throughout these chilly winter months.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Creamy Tomato Pasta

A quick and easy weeknight pasta that's tossed in tomato cream sauce and finished with chopped fresh basil.

Prep time 5 minutes

Cook time 15 minutes to 25 minutes

Serves 4 to 6

Nutritional Info


  • 1 pound

    dry short pasta, such as penne

  • 2 tablespoons

    olive oil

  • 1

    small yellow onion, finely chopped

  • 2 cloves

    garlic, minced

  • Pinch red pepper flakes (optional)

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    kosher salt, plus more as needed

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed

  • 1 (28-ounce) can

    crushed tomatoes

  • 1/2 cup

    heavy cream

  • 1/2 cup

    chopped fresh basil leaves

  • Grated Parmesan cheese, for serving


  1. Heat olive oil in a large, high-sided sauté pan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion and sauté until softened and translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes, if using, and sauté until fragrant, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Carefully pour in the crushed tomatoes. Add the salt and pepper and stir to combine. Bring to a simmer and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to low and stir in the cream. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper as needed.

  2. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook al dente, about 10 minutes or according to package instructions.

  3. Drain the pasta and add it to the sauce. Toss gently to combine. Add the basil, toss once more, and serve immediately with grated cheese.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.