Easy Rustic Pasta Sauce Recipe From Fresh Summer Tomatoes

Updated on May 11, 2020
Solaras profile image

Barbara Fitzgerald is a cooking enthusiast who has been discovering and crafting gluten-free recipes alternatives for 15 years.

Easy Rustic Pasta Sauce Recipe Made With Fresh Tomatoes
Easy Rustic Pasta Sauce Recipe Made With Fresh Tomatoes

Fresh Tomato Pasta Sauce Recipe

This rustic tomato-based pasta sauce is easy to prepare and loaded with intense tomato flavor. Use any combination of your favorite tomatoes; we favor the heirloom variety known as “Ugly” and toss in any leftover grape or cherry tomatoes to round out the dish. Plum or Roma varieties, when in season, make a great base for this sauce as well.

The trick is to use only fresh tomatoes; this dish does not work with canned, steamed, or chopped tomatoes. The surprise ingredient in this easy Italian sauce is fresh cilantro; we've tried making it without the cilantro, and it just does not pack the same punch. By the way, even those who dislike cilantro still love this recipe.

How to Ripen Your Fruit

If your fresh tomatoes are looking a little anemic, store them in a paper bag for a day or two. The gases naturally emitted by the fruits will cause them to ripen quickly. Never store tomatoes or any fruits or vegetables in an airtight plastic bag, as this will cause them to decay prematurely. Paper bags allow the fruit to breathe and ripen more rapidly.

Heirloom Ugly tomatoes and various heirloom cherry and pear tomatoes were used in this preparation
Heirloom Ugly tomatoes and various heirloom cherry and pear tomatoes were used in this preparation

Cook Time

Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 1 hour 20 min
Ready in: 1 hour 30 min
Yields: Makes 4 servings

Easy Pasta Sauce Ingredients

  • 4 pounds fresh tomatoes, roughly chopped in 1 inch pieces (leave in seeds and skin)
  • 1 large Spanish (purple) onion, roughly chopped in 1 inch x 1.2 inch pieces
  • 1.5 cups fresh cilantro, loosely packed—save some sprigs for garnish
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 pinch dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt or sea salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 10 kalamata olives, pitted and roughly chopped (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon honey, (optional—add if the tomatoes are not fully ripened or the sauce tastes tart)
  • Pasta: (we used vermicelli in the recipe)
  • 16 oz vermicelli, thin spaghetti, penne rigata, cooked in salted water
  • 8 oz crumbled feta cheese, divided 6 oz and 2 oz for garnish
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Easy Pasta Sauce Recipe Instructions

  1. Combine the tomatoes, onion, garlic, basil, oregano, salt, pepper, and one cup cilantro (reserving 1/2 cup cilantro for later). Toss with olive oil to coat all ingredients.
  2. Note: If you are adding the kalamata olives, reserve those and add to the sauce for the last 20 minutes of cooking.
  3. Microwave method (recommended): Cover with plastic wrap and cook 20 minutes, stir and return to microwave leaving a vent in the plastic wrap for steam to escape. Stir every 20 minutes, cooking for a total of 1 hour and 10 minutes. You may want to cook 10 minutes longer if the tomatoes are particularly watery. When done, the tomatoes should be deep red in color and the sauce should be shiny and not watery. (Overcooking will make the sauce a little gummy like sun-dried tomatoes. It’s still good, but not as appealing.)
  4. Conventional Oven method: Place ingredients in a Dutch oven and cover. Cook in a preheated oven at 275 degrees. Stir after 30 minutes. Return to oven leaving the lid slightly askew to allow steam to escape and sauce to reduce. Continue to stir every 20–30 minutes. Total cooking time 2–2.5 hours.
  5. Once the sauce is cooked, immediately after removing from the oven add reserved cilantro, toss and cover. Set aside and cook pasta.
  6. Drain pasta and toss with 6 ounces feta cheese to coat the pasta. Divide the pasta on plates and top with 2–3 heaping spoonfuls of sauce.
  7. Garnish with reserved 2 ounces feta cheese and sprigs of cilantro.
The Finished Rustic Pasta Sauce
The Finished Rustic Pasta Sauce

A Versatile Tomato Pasta Sauce

Make plenty of extra sauce, as it gets better as the flavors meld together overnight; this tomato sauce also freezes well, allowing you to enjoy the taste of summertime tomatoes year-round.

Thick and hearty this versatile sauce also makes a tasty bruschetta topping or spread for dinner parties. Smear on toasted French bread and top with crumbled feta cheese and chopped fresh cilantro or basil for a delicious appetizer. Bon Appetite!

The Best Gluten-Free Pasta Options

This hearty tomato sauce is naturally gluten-free. Some of the better gluten-free pasta options that work well with this sauce include:

  • Ancient Harvest Quinoa Spaghetti (Quinoa a Super Grain): This is a thicker, firmer pasta.
  • Mueller's Gluten Free Spaghetti (Corn and Rice Blend): Tends to stick together if not frequently stirred while boiling.
  • Hodgson Mill Angel Hair Pasta (Brown Rice Pasta): Similar to rice noodles from Vietnamese traditions.
  • Muellers' Gluten Free Penne (corn and Rice Pasta Blend): Our new favorite gluten-free noodle.
  • DeBoles Penne (Rice Pasta): Firm with good texture and flavor.

Rate This Recipe

3.7 stars from 7 ratings of Rustic Pasta Sauce


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    • Pamela Hatheway profile image

      Pamela Hatheway 

      5 years ago

      This looks delicious. Yum

    • Pamela Hatheway profile image

      Pamela Hatheway 

      5 years ago

      This looks delicious. Yum

    • Solaras profile imageAUTHOR

      Barbara Fitzgerald 

      5 years ago from Georgia

      I love the Heirlooms any shape or size. There is a variety sold here in the stores called "Ugly" tomatoes lol. They are very crinkly not round and flavorless like the variety I call "Styrofoam" tomatoes.

    • Sed-me profile image

      Elisabeth Ellis 

      5 years ago from Nashville, TN.

      Wow, it looks so hearty, you could put your eggplant in it.

      Do you think heirloom tomatoes are ugly? I always think they are so beautiful.

    • Solaras profile imageAUTHOR

      Barbara Fitzgerald 

      6 years ago from Georgia

      Let me know how you like it! I like to use vermicelli or angel hair with it.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish MS 

      6 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      It looks delicious and I'm planning spaghetti for tomorrow, so will use your recipe!

    • Solaras profile imageAUTHOR

      Barbara Fitzgerald 

      6 years ago from Georgia

      It's surprisingly yummy - let me know what you think!!

    • The Dirt Farmer profile image

      Jill Spencer 

      6 years ago from United States

      Hey! Am happy to have this recipe now as we have lots of fresh tomatoes. I'm sure others could use it, too! Pinned & shared. Thanks! --Jill


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