Ina Garten’s Summer Garden Pasta Is (Almost) Too Good to Be True

published Jun 21, 2024
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Credit: Jesse Szewczyk

There are only a handful of recipes I keep in constant rotation. I’ve told you about Tara O’Brady’s basic, great chocolate chips cookies and Smitten Kitchen’s cannellini aglio e olio, but I’ve selfishly been keeping Ina Garten’s summer garden pasta a secret.

At first glance, Ina’s dish looks like any other tomato pasta made with basil and olive oil. But once you get started, you’ll quickly learn why it’s special. Instead of cooking the sauce, Ina marinates the tomatoes, creating a simple, stunning sauce that highlights the season (like this one!). It’s an ingenious method of making a quick weeknight pasta sauce, and I make it every single summer.

Get the recipe: Ina Garten’s Summer Garden Pasta

Credit: Jesse Szewczyk

The Secret to Ina’s Tomato Sauce? It’s Uncooked.

Yep, you read that right: This summery dish is nothing more than marinated tomatoes tossed with hot pasta. The tomatoes coat the pasta in a sweet and savory mixture of garlicky tomato juices and fruity olive oil that creates the freshest, most flavorful sauce imaginable. It might sound too good to be true, but it’s seriously delicious.

To make it, combine halved cherry tomatoes, a generous glug of olive oil, garlic, chopped basil, salt, red pepper flakes, and pepper. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it hang out on your counter for four hours. As the tomatoes sit, they take on the flavors of the garlic and basil and become saucy and tender. Once ready, toss them (along with their juices) with hot, cooked angel hair pasta and garnish with Parmesan. It’s light, simple, and the epitome of summer.

Credit: Jesse Szewczyk

If You Make Ina Garten’s Summer Garden Pasta, a Few Tips

Before you head into the kitchen to make this pasta, keep these tips in mind.

  1. Feel free to use any pasta shape. I personally like the angel hair pasta in this recipe, but I know that there is a passionate group of people who hate angel hair no matter what. The good news? This pasta can be made with just about any shape you have on hand.
  2. Don’t rush it. Ina instructs you to marinate the tomatoes for four hours, which might seem excessive but is well worth it. As they sit, they release some of their juices and take on the flavors of the basil and garlic, transforming into a delicious, hearty sauce.
  3. Reduce the amount of red peppers flakes if you’re sensitive to heat. Ina calls for half a teaspoon of red pepper flakes, which gives the pasta a subtle kick. If you aren’t a fan of spice, use 1/4 teaspoon instead.
  4. Don’t be afraid of salt. Tomatoes are one of those foods that really need salt to shine. Ina instructs you to marinate them in one teaspoon of salt, but I found that I had to season the finished pasta with a pinch more to really bring it to life.

Get the recipe: Ina Garten’s Summer Garden Pasta

At The Kitchn, our editors develop and debut brand-new recipes on the site every single week. But at home, we also have our own tried-and-true dishes that we make over and over again — because quite simply? We love them. Kitchn Love Letters is a series that shares our favorite, over-and-over recipes.

This post originally ran on The Kitchn. See it there: Ina Garten’s Summer Garden Pasta Is (Almost) Too Good to Be True