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  • Writer's picturePasta Grammar

Pasta allo Scarpariello | Simple, Quick & Delicious Cherry Tomato Pasta Recipe

Updated: Mar 18, 2023

This is the first recipe we always recommend to someone who is new to authentic Italian cuisine! This pasta dish is very simple and uses just a few, choice ingredients. It’s also really easy and quick to make: the sauce can be fully prepared in less time than it takes to boil some spaghetti.

Pasta allo Scarpariello | Simple, Quick & Delicious Cherry Tomato Pasta Sauce Recipe

Above all, pasta allo scarpariello is delicious! Like the best Italian food, its taste transcends the simplicity of the recipe, making a dish that is far greater than the sum of its parts. Learn this easy-to-master recipe and you’ll always have a mind-blowing culinary trick up your sleeves.

What Makes Pasta allo Scarpariello So Delicious?

While we love a traditional tomato sauce, the downside of such a sauce is that it requires quite a bit of cooking time in order to concentrate the flavor of the tomatoes. Pasta allo scarpariello, though, packs a TON of flavor into a very quick pan sauce. How? The secret is the use of cherry tomatoes.

Cherry (or grape) tomatoes are bursting with flavor even before they are cooked down. By sautéing them only for a few minutes, you can have a sauce that tastes like you slaved over it for hours. Your guests will be none the wiser!

What Do You Need to Make the Pasta?

It’s hard to get simpler than this! Like all simple dishes, though, the quality of the ingredients matters enormously.

You’ll want to find a very good, bronze-cut pasta. Look for a rough texture and ideally a white color. The smoother and more yellow a pasta is, the worse it is. Also keep an eye out for longer cooking times, the longer the better. Spaghetti is an excellent choice for this sauce, but we’re also partial to larger tubes such as rigatoni and paccheri.

Look for nice, ripe cherry tomatoes. You’ll also need fresh basil, a little bit of garlic, and a good extra virgin olive oil.

Do not use “parmesan” cheese! You want to look for Parmigiano-Reggiano and no, they are not the same thing. In fact, we would recommend simply skipping the cheese entirely if you don’t have or can’t find the real thing. While it won’t really be pasta allo scarpariello, the result will still be delicious without cheese (so you can also make the dish vegan-friendly, if necessary).

How to Cook Perfect Cherry Tomato Pasta

Getting the timing right on this dish is really easy, because there’s a lot of wiggle room. While you’re bringing the pasta water up to a boil, start heating the olive oil and garlic up to medium heat in a large skillet. When the garlic starts to sizzle, remove the clove and add the tomatoes. Sauté them until they soften and release all their juices, then season with salt and some fresh basil.

At this point, you can just keep the sauce simmering while the pasta cooks. The only thing you have to do is add a little bit of hot pasta water into the pan as necessary to maintain moisture. When the pasta is cooked, you’re ready to mix it into the sauce and add some cheese. Dinner is served!

Watch the Pasta Grammar video where we make Pasta allo Scarpariello here:


Makes: 3-4 servings

Cook Time: 20 minutes

For this recipe, you will need:

  • 3-4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

  • 1 garlic clove, peeled

  • 20-30 cherry tomatoes, sliced in half

  • Salt

  • 3-4 servings of pasta (about 12oz. or 340g)

  • 4-6 fresh basil leaves, or to taste

  • Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese to taste

  • Pasta pot

  • Large skillet

  • Wooden spoon

  • Ladle

  • Tongs or a slotted spoon

Put a large pot of water on to boil. While it comes up to temp, begin preparing the sauce.

Heat the olive oil and whole garlic clove over medium heat in a large skillet. When the garlic begins to sizzle in the oil, remove and discard it. Add the halved cherry tomatoes.

At any point, when the pasta water comes to a boil, salt it generously and add the pasta. Cook as directed, but set a timer for 2-3 minutes less than the recommended “al dente” cook time.

As the cherry tomatoes cook in the pan, they will eventually soften completely and release all of their juices. You can gently mash them with a wooden spoon or fork to help them along. Season with salt to taste and tear in the fresh basil. Reduce the heat and bring the sauce to a gentle simmer. As needed, continue to ladle in a little bit of hot pasta water to maintain moisture in the pan while the pasta finishes cooking.

When the pasta is ready, use tongs or a slotted spoon (depending on the shape) to transfer it directly into the pan. Turn up the heat under the skillet and stir all together with the sauce for a few minutes, or until the pasta is al dente to your taste. Ladle in more pasta water as needed to keep the sauce moist.

Turn off the heat and grate a very generous amount of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese on top. Stir the cheese in thoroughly until it melts into the sauce. If necessary, add a little bit more pasta water to help. Serve immediately, topped with some extra grated cheese (optional).

Buon appetito!

Want to try another simple and delicious pasta? "Burro e Parmigiano" is a great place to start! If you're interested in exploring the yummy possibilities of cherry tomatoes, check out our cherry tomato passata recipe!

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Mar 07, 2023

Mmmm!! Now I'm trying to figure out how to say "yum!" in Italian.


Nicholas Mosher
Nicholas Mosher
Aug 28, 2022

I made this tonight for my wife and daughter with cherry tomatoes, basil and garlic from our garden. I added a pinch of chile flakes and a splash of pinot grigio. Also used a lot less water than recommended so that the pasta water I finished the sauce with had more starch to help emulsify the sauce. Went with spaghetti, but I'll try a tubular pasta next time. This will now be a standard menu item in our house mid-late summer when our New Hampshire garden is in full cherry tomato output. So good - thanks!


Damian Pascale
Damian Pascale
Aug 17, 2022

Love this dish. Love your content. My wife and I watch all the time.


Killian Moore
Killian Moore
Mar 08, 2022

One fave tool great for recipes that call for partially covered pots we have is a silicone lid. Its wide enough to cover multiple pan sizes but it has small slits all over to allow steam to escape etc


Feb 14, 2022

Made this tonight... AMAZING!!!! Definitely will be making again and again!!

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