Set your sights on dinner in 15 minutes or less and it doesn’t involve getting a delivery. This 15-Minute Creamy Tomato Pasta has sweet sautéed onions, garlic, rich tomato paste, and a touch of cream combined for a flavor packed sauce that rivals any restaurant dish. This quick dinner winner that will make the whole family and your budget happy.
This creamy tomato pasta dish is in my weekly meal plan at least twice a month. It is a great meal to whip up at the end of the week when groceries are starting to run a little low. All of the ingredients are staples in my house, and it would be rare to find me without them.
-Yellow onions: Yellow onions are a base ingredient for so many dishes, you need to make sure you always have a few on hand. They get sweeter when cooked and last for a few months when kept in a cool dry place.
–Garlic: Garlic will also last for months if stored in a cool dry place. Garlic also gets sweeter when cooked and adds great spice.
-Tomato Paste: Unlike tomato sauce or canned crushed tomatoes, tomato paste is thick and rich tasting. It doesn’t have any of the tart, acidic flavor of uncooked tomatoes. Tomato paste has been cooked down and concentrated to its essence, and a little goes a long way.
–Dry Basil: You can absolutely use fresh basil for this recipe if you have, but this is my end of the grocery go-to recipe and sometimes dry is all I have. Dry basil will still add lots of great flavor. Rub it in your hands a bit before throwing into the sauce. This will wake up the oils inside of it to get the most out of the dried flakes.
–Pasta: Any good quality pasta will work. I like to use tubular shapes like penne rigate or rigatoni. Ridges on the outside of the pasta help to hold the sauce well.
-Pasta Water: When you cook pasta properly, the water should be well salted. After you cook the pasta, starch will be left behind. Adding pasta water to a sauce can help thin down a thick sauce. This will add flavor from the salted water and the starch will help the sauce cling to the pasta.
-Heavy Cream: Thick and rich cream just adds tons of flavor and makes a sauce all the more satisfying.
-Parmesan Cheese: Parmesan cheese is a pasta must in our house. For this recipe it is just a topping. It will add some nice nutty salty flavor to the dish.
The key to getting this 15-minute creamy tomato pasta recipe finished quickly is to prepare ahead.
Start the pasta water on the stove before anything else. This way you can drop the pasta while your sauce is coming together.
This sauce comes together very quickly so make sure to pull all of your ingredients out before you get started. Start warming a large saucepan on medium heat. Chop your half onion and garlic and a set aside. Make sure you have your measuring implements out. The onions take the longest to cook. You can get all of the next steps ready while the onions soften.
Make the best use of garlic and onions by cooking them perfectly.
Add olive oil to the pan, then add chopped yellow onion. If the onions start to brown too quickly, turn down the heat. The onions should cook slowly. Add a touch of salt to help draw the water out. Stir every few minutes to make sure they cook evenly.
Protect the garlic or have bitter sauce.
After the onions soften, add garlic. It is really important not to add the garlic at the same time as the onion. Garlic has lots of sugars and when it is left to cook too long it burns and becomes bitter. I always wait to add garlic until my onions are almost completely cooked. Pressed or minced garlic cooks really fast and just needs to warm through to start adding that amazing flavor.
Don’t Forget to save the pasta water.
I have on many occasions drained my pasta, and then realized I needed it. Serious forehead slapping moment! Adding a half cup or ladle full of pasta water will make from a really creamy pasta sauce instead of a pasty thick sauce.
For perfect Creamy Tomato Pasta it is as simple as stirring.
Once the garlic and onion are cooked, add the tomato paste. Warm it up a bit and stir it into the onions and garlic. It will be a kind of a clumpy paste at this point.
Add the hot pasta water to start thinning it down, then add the cream. Really stir it to make sure you don’t have any clumps of tomato paste. The sauce should warm to a simmer to fully come together.
Season the 15-minute creamy tomato sauce, then add the drained pasta. Again, stir or toss the pasta in the sauce pan. Once all the pasta is coated in sauce, serve with a sprinkle of Parmesan.
“I eat pasta every day. It gives me energy. I love the taste.” –Frankie Avalon
15-Minute Creamy Tomato Pasta
- 1 lb Pasta Rigatoni or Penne
- ½ Yellow Onion
- 2 Garlic Cloves
- 6 oz Canned Tomato Paste
- ½ Cup Heavy Cream
- ½ Cup Reserved Pasta Water
- 1 Tbsp Dehydrated Basil or 3 Tbsp Fresh
- 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
- Salt and Pepper To Taste
- ½ Cup Grated Parmesan for topping Optional
- Bring a pot of water to boil on the stove. Add salt to the water. Boil rigatoni or penne using the instructions on the package.
- Before draining away the pasta water, reserve ½ cup of pasta water.
- Gather all of the sauce ingredients because this sauce cooks up very fast.
- Dice onions and mince garlic.
- Heat a large skillet on medium heat.
- Add Olive Oil to the skillet. Add diced onions to the pan and cook until softened and translucent.
- Add the minced or pressed garlic to the pan and let it warm through.
- Add 6oz of tomato paste to the pan and stir into the onions.
- Add the reserved pasta water and start to thin out the sauce.
- Next add the cream to the pan and stir until the sauce is smooth.
- Season the sauce with salt, pepper, and dry basil.
- Add the cooked pasta to the pan and stir until pasta is well coated with sauce and the entire dish is hot.
- Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and serve