If ever there were a pasta recipe to keep in your back pocket, it’s this tomato-basil pappardelle. It’s easy to make with simple ingredients, the best kind of meal.
While I love a good, complicated meal with lots of moving parts, there is something so satisfying about a dish that can come together in under an hour with minimal prep. This recipe is one that you can modify endlessly to suit your tastes, and it’s just so darn easy to throw together.
You hardly need measurements for any of the ingredients, and–while I will list the exact quantities used–I encourage you to measure with your heart. Like it extra garlicky? Throw in a few extra cloves. Want an even creamier sauce? More cream it is! Want to lighten it up? Omit the cream entirely and throw in some spinach with the basil. It’s a dish that is very easily open to interpretation.
How to make this tomato-basil pappardelle:
First, gather your ingredients. You’ll need:
- Shallot or yellow onion
- Sun-dried tomatoes
- Fresh basil
- Lemon juice
- Heavy Cream
A few ingredient notes to keep in mind:
- Sun-dried tomatoes: Normally, I’m an oil-packed sun-dried tomato gal. I used dry-packed sun-dried tomatoes in this recipe that I found at H Mart. Candidly, I went with them because they were already chopped up, which would save some prep time. Typically, I’d suggest rehydrating dry-packed tomatoes first, but in this recipe, they sauté briefly and then simmer in liquid, so it’s unnecessary. Use oil-packed if you have them, but make sure you add a little drizzle of that tomato oil to the sauce.
- Parmigiano-Reggiano: I strongly advise against using pre-shredded parm. You’ll mix some of the parm into the sauce to thicken it up. Grated cheeses are coated in cellulose–an anti-caking agent–to prevent the cheese from clumping or sticking together. While there’s nothing wrong with cellulose, it creates a gritty texture when melted into sauces. Using a microplane or the smallest holes on your box grater will create super finely grated cheese that melts beautifully into the sauce without clumping.
- Pappardelle: I use pappardelle in this recipe, but try it out with whatever pasta you have at home. Spaghetti, linguine, or fettuccine would all be fine options.
Making this tomato-basil pasta is just a few short steps:
- Step 1: First, sauté the aromatics in a little olive oil. Add butter and the sun-dried tomatoes and cook them briefly.
- Step 2: Once the shallots have softened, pour in water or stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes until the liquid reduces by half.
- Step 3: While the sauce simmers, cook the pasta and reserve about one cup of the pasta cooking liquid,
- Step 4: Stir in basil, lemon juice, and cream to the tomatoes and let it bubble and thicken briefly.
- Step 5: Finish the sauce by adding the grated cheese, half the pasta water, and whisk it until smooth. Stir in the cooked pasta and toss to coat, adding more water as needed.
That’s it! Serve it alongside a protein of your choice. It would be incredible with grilled chicken or sautéed shrimp.
- 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large shallot, peeled and diced
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 4 tablespoons butter
- ¾ cup dry-packed sun-dried tomatoes, roughly chopped
- Pinch of crushed red pepper
- 1 cup water or vegetable stock
- 8 ounces pappardelle
- 12–15 basil leaves, roughly chopped, plus a few leaves for garnish
- 1 lemon, juiced
- ½ cup heavy cream
- ½ cup finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano
- Salt and pepper to taste
Sauté the shallot and garlic:
- Heat the olive oil in a wide pot over medium heat. Once hot, add the shallot and cook for 3–4 minutes until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute until fragrant.
Sauté the tomatoes:
- Melt the butter into the garlic and shallot. Stir often to prevent the garlic from burning. Once the butter is bubbly, add the chopped sun-dried tomatoes. Cook, stirring regularly, for 2–3 minutes. Season with salt and a pinch of crushed red pepper to taste.
Simmer the sauce:
- Pour in 1 cup water or stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes. It should reduce by about half.
Cook the pasta:
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add a generous pinch of salt and add the pasta. Cook until al dente. Remove 1 cup pasta cooking water and drain the pasta. Set aside.
Finish the sauce:
- Stir the basil, lemon juice, and cream into the sauce. Turn the heat to medium. It should be bubbling but not boiling. Pour in half the pasta cooking water and whisk in the grated cheese. Continue whisking until the cheese is melted and the sauce is smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Reduce heat to low.
Sauce the pasta:
- Add the cooked pasta to the sauce and toss to coat, adding the remaining ½ cup pasta water as needed to loosen up the sauce. Turn off the heat.
- Divide the pasta between shallow bowls. Garnish with fresh basil and more grated Parmigiano Reggiano if you like. Enjoy!