Our creamy sun-dried tomato pasta recipe is the epitome of easy and versatile weeknight dinners, perfect for any time of the year. Whether you're a culinary novice or a seasoned cook, this easy one pot pasta offers endless possibilities. It's customisable with different vegetables or protein, comes together in 20 minutes and can accommodate even the smallest budget.
⭐️ Why you need to add this sun-dried tomato pasta to your weekly menu
- Quick and Easy: Pasta recipes are a go-to for fast and delicious dinners. This creamy sun-dried tomato pasta is no exception, offering a speedy meal option for busy nights.
- Versatility: Whether you're a fan of bright and bold pasta puttanesca or creamy roasted tomato pasta, this recipe fits right in. Its creamy tomato base makes it a versatile choice for pasta lovers.
- Family-Friendly: This pasta is a crowd-pleaser, loved by kids and adults. Its creamy texture, rich flavours, and colourful ingredients make it an excellent family dinner. Plus, it's a great way to sneak in some healthy spinach without any complaints. This ricotta pasta is another delicious way to get extra spinach in!
- Affordable Gourmet: While it tastes like a gourmet restaurant dish, this sun-dried tomato pasta is wallet-friendly. You can enjoy the flavours of a high-end Italian eatery without breaking the bank, making it perfect for those seeking a restaurant-quality meal on a budget.
🧾 Essential ingredients for tomato pasta
In this section, I've outlined the key ingredients and why they're essential in the recipe. For precise measurements, refer to the recipe card at the bottom of the page.
- Sundried Tomatoes: Sun-dried tomatoes infuse the dish with their intense sweet-tangy flavour, creating a robust umami taste. Substitutes include sun-dried tomato paste or rehydrated sun-dried tomatoes. My homemade roasted tomatoes also work really well here.
- Pasta: Any style of pasta will work. I have used penne and tagliatelle to test this recipe, and they both work really well. You need a pasta shape that is able to hold the sauce well.
- Baby Spinach: Baby spinach adds a healthy and vibrant element to the pasta. It wilts beautifully into the creamy sauce. Substitutes include rocket (arugula) or Swiss chard.
- Single Cream: Single cream contributes to the creamy texture of the sauce. You can use double cream for a richer version. For a lighter option, substitute with half-and-half or milk.
- Onion and garlic: Onions and garlic provide the foundational flavours of the sauce. You can use shallots or leeks instead of onions. Garlic powder can be substituted for fresh garlic if needed.
- Dried Thyme: Dried thyme enhances the overall aroma and flavor of the dish. Substitute with dried oregano, basil, or rosemary for different herbal notes.
- Fresh Basil: Fresh basil adds a burst of freshness and sweetness to the pasta. Substitutes include fresh parsley, coriander, or tarragon for a different herbaceous twist.
- Capers: Capers are optional but bring a briny, salty tang to the dish, creating a delightful contrast. Substitute with green olives or black olives for a similar briny flavour.
- Lemon Juice: Lemon juice brightens up the flavours, making them vibrant and fresh.
Step by step directions
- Sauté Onions and Garlic: Heat some olive oil (or vegetable oil) in a skillet or a shallow pan over medium heat. Add finely chopped onions and minced garlic. Sauté them until they turn soft, translucent, and release their aromatic fragrance. This forms the flavorful base of your creamy sauce.
- Stir In Sun-dried Tomatoes: Next, add the chopped sun-dried tomatoes to the skillet. Give everything a thorough stir to combine. The sun-dried tomatoes infuse the sauce with their robust, sweet-tangy flavour, creating a rich and savoury foundation.
- Simmer with Single Cream: Pour in the single cream and bring it to a gentle simmer. This step brings creaminess to the sauce, marrying all the flavours together. As the cream simmers, it melds with the sun-dried tomatoes, onions, and garlic, creating a luxurious, velvety texture. Feel free to adjust the sauce's thickness by adding a bit of water if desired.
- Wilt Spinach, Add Lemon Juice, and Toss with Pasta: Toss in the baby spinach, allowing it to wilt from the heat of the cream sauce. Squeeze in fresh lemon juice to brighten the flavours and make them pop. Finally, add your cooked pasta noodles to the skillet, ensuring they are well-coated with the creamy sauce. Sprinkle in the chopped fresh basil. Stir everything together until the pasta is evenly coated.
This creamy sundried tomato pasta is so versatile. The options are seemingly endless. Besides pesto (red or green), olives and capers, I've listed some other options to help keep this recipe inventive and fun.
- Extra Vegetables:
- Artichokes: Marinated or grilled artichoke hearts bring a Mediterranean twist. They add a slightly smoky and earthy flavour that pairs beautifully with the creamy sauce.
- Roasted Eggplant (Aubergine): Roasted aubergine adds a rich, smoky depth to your pasta.
- Roasted Peppers: Roasted red or yellow peppers can add sweetness and vibrant colour to your pasta. They bring a touch of smokiness and a slightly sweet note to the overall flavour.
- Chicken: For a protein-packed option, consider adding crispy chicken. You can prepare air fryer chicken thighs separately and serve them on top of the pasta for a hearty and satisfying meal.
- Chorizo: Introduce a smoky and spicy kick with slices of chorizo. The smokiness of chorizo pairs well with the creamy sauce, while red pepper flakes can be used for an extra touch of heat.
- Goat’s Cheese or Ricotta: Crumbled goat's cheese or ricotta can provide a creamy and tangy contrast to the sauce. They melt beautifully into the pasta, creating pockets of creamy goodness.
- Additional Suggestions:
- Pine Nuts: Toasted pine nuts offer a delightful crunch and nutty flavor. Sprinkle them on top for a textural contrast and a hint of richness.
- Crispy Bacon or Pancetta: Crispy bacon or pancetta adds a savoury and salty element to the dish. Their rich flavour complements the creaminess and provides a satisfying contrast.
💡 Chef's pro tips for recipe success
Leveraging years of experience in Michelin-starred kitchens and Cordon Bleu training, I offer straightforward, effective tips to ensure your culinary success.
- Use pasta water for the sauce: Save pasta cooking water. It's perfect for adjusting sauce consistency. If it's too thick, add a splash of pasta water and stir for desired creaminess.
- Balance creaminess and tang: Achieve the right balance between creaminess and tanginess. Taste your sauce and adjust as needed. Add lemon juice for brightness or more cream for creaminess.
- Cook pasta al dente: Cook pasta to al dente. It continues to cook in the sauce, so it should be slightly firm when draining. Follow package instructions and taste a minute or two early.
- Thoughtful garnish: Garnish with basil, Parmesan cheese, or olive oil. These finishing touches enhance presentation and flavour, making your dish restaurant-worthy.
Storage and reheating leftovers
- Store leftovers in airtight containers in the fridge for up to 3 days.
- Reheat with a splash of water to maintain creaminess.
- Avoid freezing, as cream-based pasta can separate upon thawing.
Of course, capers are optional. Feel free to skip them if you prefer a caper-free version.
You can store leftovers in airtight containers in the fridge for up to 3 days. Remember that the sauce will thicken as it cools, so you may need to add a splash of water when reheating.
Freezing is not recommended for this dish because the cream in the sauce can separate as it defrosts, affecting the texture and consistency.
This pasta is delicious on its own, but you can pair it with a side salad, garlic bread, or a simple vegetable medley for a complete meal.
To add spiciness, sprinkle red pepper flakes into the sauce according to your preference. Start with a small amount and adjust to taste.
Creamy Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta Recipe
- 340 g 12 ounces of your favourite pasta
- 50 g 1 cup of baby spinach
- 6 sundried tomatoes, chopped (about ½ cup)
- 250 ml 1 cup of single cream (or double cream for extra richness)
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- ½ teaspoon of dried thyme
- ¼ cup of fresh basil, chopped
- 2 tablespoons of capers, optional
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Start by bringing a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to package instructions until it's just shy of being fully cooked (al dente). Reserve 250ml (1 cup) of pasta cooking water before draining.
- While the pasta cooks, heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the finely chopped onion and minced garlic. Sauté until they become soft and fragrant, usually about 2-3 minutes.
- Add the chopped sun-dried tomatoes to the skillet and stir to combine. Let them cook for about 2 minutes to infuse their rich flavours.
Making the sauce:
- Pour in the single cream and bring it to a gentle simmer. Allow the sauce to thicken slightly, which takes about 2-3 minutes.
- Toss the baby spinach into the skillet and let it wilt from the heat of the cream. If the sauce is too thick, you can use some of the reserved pasta water to reach your desired consistency.
- Squeeze in the juice of one lemon and add the cooked pasta to the skillet. Stir in the chopped fresh basil.
- For an extra layer of flavour, include capers at this stage if you prefer. They add a bright briny tang to the dish.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remember that sun-dried tomatoes and capers can be salty, so adjust accordingly.
- Once everything is well combined and heated through, your Creamy Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta is ready to serve.
- Garnish with additional fresh basil leaves, grated Parmesan cheese, or a drizzle of high-quality olive oil, if desired.
- This recipe is highly customisable. Feel free to add your favourite extras like roasted vegetables, grilled chicken, or different cheeses. Adjust the sauce consistency with reserved pasta water as needed.
- For a smoky twist, consider adding roasted eggplant (aubergine) or grilled red peppers as additional ingredients.
- If you prefer a spicier kick, sprinkle red pepper flakes into the sauce according to your taste.
- Store any leftovers in airtight containers in the fridge for up to 3 days. Be aware that the cream sauce may thicken upon cooling, so you may need to add a splash of water when reheating.
- While this pasta is incredibly satisfying on its own, it pairs beautifully with a side salad or some crusty garlic bread for a complete meal.