Pasta with Fresh No Cook Tomato Sauce

Pasta with Fresh Tomato Sauce is the perfect dinner for hot summer months. Fresh summer tomatoes marinated in olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and spices with tons of fresh basil.

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This simple pasta dish with a fresh tomato sauce is one of my favorite things to make in the summer. The tomatoes marinate in olive oil and vinegar to create a fresh and delicious sauce. Topped with your favorite cheese or grilled protein, this is a meal you will make all the time. We also love this easy One Pot Mushroom Pasta and Caprese Pasta for easy meals.

There are a lot of reasons people give up on pasta — the calories, the carbs, the fat, even the season that you're in. I know, for me at least, when the hot weather rolls around, I put the pasta to the backburner, leaving the seemingly heavier meals for winter months when I need more of that comfort food.

However, I have finally found a way to eat pasta year-round, and that's in combating the heavier side of pasta with a lighter, summery sauce. Leave the days behind of sweating it out at the stove all afternoon, trying to make traditional tomato sauce the way your grandma would have wanted. In fact, don't cook at all! I've perfected a no-cook version made with delicious summer tomatoes and I'm telling you, it's the real deal.

The key to this sauce is finding the best tomatoes you can and giving them plenty of time to marinate. Also, please, please, please don't be afraid to add some cheese when tossing everything together. In fact, get funky with it — the funkier the cheese, the better the flavor, in my opinion. A tangy goat cheese, creamy fresh mozzarella, or salty Parmesan are all delicious additions to the sauce as are freshly grilled zucchini, asparagus, or shrimp.

Pasta with fresh tomato sauce and chopped basil in a white bowl.

How Do I Pick the Best Tomatoes?

The best tomatoes are going to be found in this order: homegrown, farmer's market, specialty store, grocery store. That's just the way of the tomato world. Now, truth be told, sure, your farmer's market tomatoes could, in fact, be better than the ones you're growing at home, but anything you planted and grew and picked with your own hands will just taste better, just because.

However, not all of us can or want to garden so that's when I'd suggest trying your local farmer's market or specialty store. (A lot of local, specialty stores will carry the same tomatoes that your farmers will bring to the farmer's market — they just might be a day or two older.)

The last option is to check your local grocery. Some chains will carry better tomatoes than others. But, as a rule, stay away from any that are pinkish and feel too squishy or you just know are going to have that gross, mealy texture like a fast food tomato wedge. (You know, the one you always end up picking off?)

When looking for tomatoes, try to find those that have a deep coloring all over (whether they are red, yellow, purple, or any color, just make sure it's consistent). Many tomatoes are shipped unripe from other states or even countries. If a tomato still has any green on it — it was not vine ripened, and therefore less flavorful.

Tomatoes should also feel heavy (the big ones, anyway) and tomatoes of any size should be smooth (no wrinkles, indents, or puckering) and plump. Avoid any that have dark spots or are starting to mold.

Side Dishes to Serve with Pasta with Fresh No Cook Tomato Sauce

Imagine the pasta-bilities! (Sorry, couldn't resist.) Pasta and a simple red sauce just begs for all kinds of sides.

  • A simple side salad with a nice, light Italian dressing always does the trick when paired with pasta for me.
  • Roasted veggies of all sorts go great with pasta — broccoli, cauliflower, summer squash — you name it, it's accompanied my dinner.
  • A nice crusty slice of buttered bread or roll.
  • Soup! Try a cup of soup on the side with a salad and you'll feel like you're at a certain all-you-can-eat Italian restaurant.
  • Try a side of cooked spinach or kale — it wilts up quickly and you can even put it right with your sauce and pasta for a one-bowl dish if you like.

Fresh tomato sauce on a bed of spaghetti with basil. 

Ideas for Customizing Pasta With Fresh No Cook Tomato Sauce

Pasta with me is like a box of chocolates — you never know what you're going to get. I could write probably infinitely about the ways in which I've created and recreated pasta dishes. But these are by far my favorites, in no particular order.

  • Adding cooked shrimp to a finished pasta dish is just heaven on a plate. You can also add scallops or a meatier fillet of fish over the top, like salmon, tuna, or red snapper.
  • Toss in some capers and roasted garlic for deeper, more complex flavors.
  • Put in some wilted, hearty greens or sauteed veggies to the sauce for a filling meal all in one.
  • Sweet Italian chicken or turkey sausage is so tasty when paired with pasta and a simple tomato sauce. Take the sausage out of the casing for that ground meat texture.
  • Sprinkle or mix in your favorite cheese — feta, goat, fresh mozzarella, or shredded Parmesan all work well.
  • How about adding artichokes and mushrooms to that mixture? Yeah, I think you know what I'm talking about.
  • If you'd like a meatless option but a little added protein, consider adding a can of chickpeas or cannellini beans to your sauce.
  • Bacon! Whether you go whole hog (the real stuff) or try turkey bacon (or even fakin' bacon), you'll love how well these flavors go together.
The Recipe
Pasta with fresh tomato sauce and basil on a plate with a blue and white napkin.

Pasta with Fresh No Cook Tomato Sauce

Adapted from
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  • 2 lbs. tomatoes, diced (about ½ inch.)
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil (or parsley)
  • 2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp. thyme
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Salt and pepper
  • 8 oz. high fiber pasta

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Toss together the tomatoes, olive oil, basil (or parsley), thyme, vinegar, garlic, salt, and pepper. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes (up to 4 hours.)


When ready to eat, cook the pasta according to package directions. Toss warm pasta with tomatoes and serve.

Nutritional Facts
Serving Size: 1.5 cups
Amount Per Serving
Calories 281
Calories from Fat 116
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 13g
Saturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 14mg
Total Carbohydrate 52g
Dietary Fiber 9g
Sugars 9g
Protein 8g

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

The Nutritional Values provided are estimates only and may vary based on the preparation method.

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About the author Meet Kristen McCaffrey
Hi, I’m the cookbook author, recipe developer, and food enthusiast behind Slender Kitchen. I am obsessed with making healthy food that is easy to prepare and absolutely delicious. Meal planning is my secret weapon and I hope I can make meal time easier for you with our tried and tested recipes and foolproof meal plans. Learn More
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