Pasta with Tomato Cream Sauce

Story by Natalie
Pasta with Tomato Cream Sauce
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Pasta with tomato cream sauce is life...I mean, if you’re into that sort of thing.

A couple of years ago (okay more like 12, but who's counting?) I went on a serious mac and cheese kick. Every Friday night I would chose a new mac and cheese recipe to try out.

In that time I learned a lot about making the perfect mac and cheese and tried some delicious combos along the way, but by far my favorite was this late night mac and cheese from an old cookbook.

I loved it so much that all these years later I’m still making it (with a few minor tweaks here and there) and am so excited to share it with you.

Everyone needs a good late night dinner recipe up their sleeve, right? You know...for those movie watching, wine drinking Fridays, when your only real plan is making sure your tv works and you want a super satisfying dinner (or second dinner) that requires minimal effort.

Well, this Late Night Pasta with Tomato Cream Sauce is just that dinner. It marries what’s best about mac and cheese with what’s best about a great bowl of tomato-based pasta in one effortless and seriously tasty package, so that you can get straight to your couch as quickly as possible.

(Less than 30 minutes quick)

What goes into this Late Night Creamy Tomato Pasta?

Tomatoes. Duh.

For this recipe I like to keep things easy by using a large can of crushed tomatoes, which ensures I can make this craveable dish year round. However, in the event that your summer garden is dripping with fresh tomatoes (like mine hopefully will be soon) please feel free to use our three ingredient tomato sauce recipe as your base and use those fresh tomatoes!

Cream. Give me alllll the cream.

There’s just something about cream and tomatoes together, am I right? Maybe it’s all the grilled cheese sandwiches with tomato soup I had growing up, but to me dairy and tomatoes just belong together. The creaminess of this sauce intensifies the tomato flavor and sets this dish apart from being “just another tomato sauce.”

Cheese

What would a good pasta dish be without a fist full of cheese? I prefer parmesan for it’s saltiness, but goat cheese would be a delicious substitute if you’re feeling adventurous.

Basil

My garden is currently bursting with this favorite herb. Its fresh taste provides the perfect burst of brightness to the rich sauce, and just smelling it has me dreaming of my trip to Italy last year. (Take me back!)

Pasta

The key to cooking late at night is to not overthink it, so use whatever pasta you have on hand. Spaghetti, tortellini, penne, rigatoni, macaroni or any gluten free variety will do just fine!

The Fresh Ingredients

Not a necessity for flavor, but I like to add a fistfull of arugula and some fresh chopped tomatoes. Somehow these additions make me think I’m eating just a bit healthier, plus the combo is completely delicious.

Pasta with Tomato Cream Sauce
Pasta with Tomato Cream Sauce

How to Make Basic Tomato Sauce

So now that you know all the components to the perfect tomato cream sauce for your pasta, let’s go back to the beginning and arguably the most important part: the tomato sauce base.

Tomato sauce isn’t necessarily hard, but you do need to know the tricks to getting rid of the acidic bite that often comes with canned tomatoes. Here’s my tried and true method:

  1. Don’t skimp on the salt. Tomatoes need a lot of salt to bring out their flavor, so a pinch just isn’t going to cut it.
  2. Add olive oil and lots of it. A couple glugs of olive oil brings out the sweetness in the tomatoes. So, when you see a ½ cup of olive oil written in the instructions know that it’s not a typo.
  3. Simmer. Every good sauce need a simmer period. This one is no exceptions. Let it simmer for 20 minutes or so. This will thicken the sauce and release some of that acidic taste.

So there you have it: everything you need to know to make the perfect 30 minute late night dinner. Who needs takeout when you’ve got the mad skills to whip up this incredible dish without breaking a sweat?

More Easy Dinners Perfect for Late Nights

Indian Buttered Chicken

Three Ingredient Tomato Sauce

Butternut Squash Quesadilla with Caramelized Onions

4 Ingredient Stovetop Mac and Cheese

Pasta with Tomato Cream Sauce

Serves 4

Ingredients

1 lb favorite pasta, cooked al dente
28 oz crushed tomatoes
15 oz tomato sauce
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tsp salt
8 fresh basil leaves
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup fresh arugula (optional)
1 cup fresh tomatoes (optional)

Method

  1. In a large, preferably non-reactive saucepan, stir together crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, olive oil, basil and salt. Bring tomato sauce to a rapid simmer and reduce to low heat. Allow to simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring often. If sauce isn’t thick enough for your liking, allow to cook for another 5 minutes.
  2. While the sauce is simmering prepare your pasta!
  3. Once the sauce is thickened add in cream and cheese and stir until combined. Add in cooked pasta and stir over medium/low heat until pasta is completely coated in sauce.
  4. Serve topped with fresh arugula, cherry tomatoes and more shaved cheese. Red pepper also make a great addition.