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Rigatoni in Creamy Tomato Sauce

This creamy tomato sauce is absolutely delicious but not overly decadent and the onion and basil add a great touch of aromatics for a simple vegetarian pasta recipe that's the perfect weeknight dinner.
5 from 1 vote
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Cook Time: 35 minutes
Inactive Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 35 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories: 416kcal


  • Large pot
  • Wide sauté pan
  • Food processor


  • 2 pounds ripe tomatoes I used vine tomatoes but Roma would work too! (Or 2 28-ounce can puréed tomatoes)
  • 1 small yellow onion
  • 10 cloves garlic
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 bunch of basil
  • Salt pepper, crushed red pepper, and a pinch of sugar to taste
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • 16 ounces rigatoni
  • ½ cup reserved pasta cooking water


Blanch the Tomatoes:

  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil and carefully add the tomatoes. Meanwhile, add ice and water to a large bowl. Once the skins have split on the tomatoes, immediately transfer them to the ice bath. Once cool enough to handle, remove the skins and carefully cut out the cores. Drain off the water and discard the skins and cores.

Prepare the Remaining Ingredients:

  • Peel and trim the onion and cut in half. Peel the garlic. Rinse the basil and set aside.

Cook the Creamy Tomato Sauce:

  • In a 2 quart sauté pan, heat the butter until melted and frothy. Add the onion, cut side down, and cook for 5 minutes until beginning to brown. Next, add the whole garlic cloves and cook an additional 2 minutes until browned all over. Finally, add the tomatoes and any juices from the bowl. Season with salt, pepper, and a pinch of sugar and add the stalk of basil. Cover and cook for 1 hour, stirring occasionally and breaking the tomatoes up with a spoon. After 1 hour, taste and season to your preference (salt, pepper, sugar, or crushed red pepper). Remove the basil stalk and discard. (It's okay if a few leaves fall into the sauce).
  • Transfer the sauce to a food processor and pulse until smooth and creamy and return back to the pot. Stir in the heavy cream and simmer over very low heat as you finish preparing the pasta.

Boil the Pasta:

  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta according to the pasta instructions and reserve ½ cup of the pasta cooking water.
  • Finish the Pasta: Add the reserved pasta cooking water into the sauce and add the rigatoni and toss to coat. Note: if you're planning on eating leftovers, toss only what pasta you intend to eat with the sauce and store leftover pasta and sauce separately in the fridge.

To Serve:

  • Divide the pasta between bowls and sprinkle with a bit of fresh cracked pepper and more crushed red pepper if desired. Enjoy!


Calories: 416kcal | Carbohydrates: 64g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 13g | Sodium: 83mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin C: 22mg
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