This creamy red pepper and tomato pasta is made with homemade tomato and red pepper sauce, but don't worry--making your own pasta sauce has never been easier. There's no oven or roasting involved, and the sauce comes together in less than 20 minutes. It's full of delicious flavors from the tomatoes and peppers, as well as garlic and fresh basil.
This recipe will be your new favorite weeknight pasta. It's full of great summer flavors, but honestly, I'd eat it any time of year. It's fast and easy but doesn't compromise on flavor, so it's perfect for guests, too. If you're looking for other great weeknight pasta recipes, try our creamy parmesan tortellini with tomatoes or garlic parmesan angel hair pasta.
- Rigatoni pasta
- Cherry or grape tomatoes
- Red bell pepper
- Fresh garlic
- Fresh basil
- Lemon juice
- Heavy cream
- Parmesan cheese
- Other ingredients: olive oil, salt, crushed red pepper, and black pepper
See recipe card for amounts.
Cook the rigatoni according to package instructions. Reserve half a cup of pasta water before draining the pasta.
Add olive oil to a large pan over medium heat. Once warm, add the red peppers and tomatoes and cook for 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes are blistered and the peppers are soft. Then add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.
Transfer the contents of the pan to a food processor or blender, then add the basil, lemon juice, salt, black pepper, and crushed red peppers. Blend until smooth, then add the mixture to the pan and put over medium-low heat.
Add heavy cream to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3-4 minutes, or until the sauce thickens slightly. Then add the reserved pasta water and cook for another 2-3 minutes, until the sauce thickens again.
Transfer the drained pasta to the pan with the sauce and mix until the pasta is coated. Then add the parmesan cheese and mix until melted and combined.
Garnish with basil and extra parmesan cheese if desired.
- Add chicken or shrimp
- Cook extra tomatoes and add them in at the end (instead of pureeing them all)
- Add extra veggies
- Swap out the rigatoni for a different type of pasta
Frequently asked questions
We tested this recipe with whole milk instead of cream, and the sauce just wasn't the same. It tasted great, but the creaminess just wasn't there. Feel free to try it for yourself, but the cheese doesn't combine with the milk in the same way.
You can! Penne, cavatappi, and bowtie come to mind as good alternatives. A long pasta like spaghetti or bugatini would work too.
Feel free to add a protein (chicken or shrimp would be great) to the top of this pasta, or serve it with a side salad or vegetables. Asparagus, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts all come to mind as great options.