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bowl of pasta with a creamy tomato sauce and fresh mozzarella

Creamy Tomato Pasta

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

5 from 10 reviews

  • Author: Amy Casey
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x


Freshly cooked pasta is tossed in a sauce with double tomato. There's tomato paste and crushed tomatoes in the rich sauce made with lots of butter, heavy cream, Parmesan cheese and fresh mozzarella. A generous amount of sweet and peppery fresh basil. This one will be your GO-TO pasta dish!


Units Scale
  • 1 pound penne
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt plus more for salting pasta water
  • 4 tablespoons salted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onion
  • 4 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 (14.5 ounces) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese plus more for serving
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh basil plus more for serving
  • 1 pound fresh mozzarella, torn in bite sized pieces


  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Season with kosher salt and add pasta. Cook according to the package directions. Drain (do not rinse with water) and set aside.
  2. In the same pot, over medium heat, melt the butter.
  3. When the butter is melted and begins to foam, add the onion and a sprinkle of kosher salt. Sauté for 3 to 4 minutes or until the onions are soft and translucent. You don't want them to brown.
  4. Stir in the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds.
  5. Stir in the tomato paste and sauté for 1 minute.
  6. Stir in the crushed tomatoes, 1 1/2 teaspoons of kosher salt and the red pepper flakes. Simmer the sauce for 5 minutes.
  7. Stir in the heavy cream, Parmesan cheese and basil.
  8. Add the cooked penne and toss with the sauce. Add some of the reserved pasta water (I add about 3/4 cup) to make the sauce extra silky.
  9. Stir in the fresh mozzarella.
  10. Serve in large bowls with more Parmesan cheese and fresh basil.


  • Boil LOTS of water for the pasta ~ about 5 to 6 quarts. You want the pasta swimming in the water otherwise it will cook up to be mushy and sticky.
  • Save about a cup of the pasta cooking water. This is like liquid gold when making pasta sauces. The starchy water makes sauces extra silky. It also can thin a too thick sauce without diluting the flavor.
  • Do not rinse the pasta with water after draining it. This will not only cool the pasta, it will remove the starchiness. The creamy sauce will prevent the sauce from clinging to the pasta.
  • Heavy cream makes for the richest and creamiest tomato sauce. You can substitute whipping cream or half and half in a pinch.
  • Creamy Tomato Pasta is best enjoyed right when it's made. Any leftovers can be reheated though. Put a serving of pasta in a microwave safe bowl. Add a little heavy cream, water or chicken stock. Cover loosely and reheat on 60% power at 30 second intervals. Stir to loosen the pasta and coat with the delicious sauce.
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Category: entrée
  • Method: stove top
  • Cuisine: Italian


  • Serving Size: 1/6 of recipe
  • Calories: 656
  • Sugar: 3.2 g
  • Sodium: 1252 mg
  • Fat: 34.1 g
  • Saturated Fat: 21.3 g
  • Unsaturated Fat: 0 g
  • Trans Fat: 0 g
  • Carbohydrates: 49.8 g
  • Fiber: 1.5 g
  • Protein: 28.3 g
  • Cholesterol: 186 mg