This  Fresh Tomato Basil Pasta is a tasty summer dish combining beautiful fresh tomatoes, herbs, garlic, and mozzarella. Dubbed “Spaghetti No Knife” by Martha Stewart, she recommends tearing the tomatoes and cheese, but using a knife is a heck of a lot easier.

Perfect for lunch or as a summer side dish, this Caprese Pasta Salad is a taste of Italy, too. The addition of garlic and red pepper flakes gives the classic Caprese trio a zippy twist!

Fresh Tomato Basil Pasta in a white serving bowl with a sprig of basil to garnish

Why You Must Make

  • This is truly a taste of summer made with garden or heirloom tomatoes, fresh basil, and creamy fresh mozzarella.
  • It’s a simple tomato pasta salad and all that needs to be cooked is the pasta.
  • It makes a satisfying summer meal!!
Serving bowl of fresh tomato basil pasta with a basil garnish

Recipe Tips

  • In the tomato off-season, use cherry or grape tomatoes, but this really is best made with garden or heirloom tomatoes.
  • PRO-Tip: You do not need to peel your tomatoes, but if you want to, here is how. On the side opposite the stem, cut a shallow X, just through the skin. Drop the tomatoes in a pot of boiling water for a minute or two, then place them in a bowl of ice water. After that, you can use your fingers and pull the peel right off the tomato.
  • Martha suggests pulling the tomatoes and mozzarella apart with your fingers, but I prefer using a sharp knife to cut them into bite-sized pieces.
  • I used 8 ounces of ciliegine mozzarella, which are small mozzarella balls. I cut them in half. They come water-packed. An 8-ounce ball of mozzarella may also be used. Just cut it into bite-sized cubes.
  • PRO-Tip: Fresh herbs are imperative. Dried herbs just don’t cut it.
  • There’s some heat from the red pepper flakes, which perks up the flavor. Decrease the amount if you’re not a fan, but I wouldn’t eliminate it.
  • You can roast your garlic if you want a sweeter, more subtle garlic flavor. I used my garlic press to mince the fresh garlic, but another option is to smash your cloves with the side of a large knife and add them whole. The garlic flavor will infuse into the juices as it rests.
  • The “sauce” can be made up to 8 hours ahead of time and kept at room temperature. Add the cheese and pasta before serving.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Herbs go with Tomatoes?

Basil is a classic pairing with tomatoes, but oregano, cilantro, chives, rosemary, dill, and parsley also work well.

What are the Best Tomatoes to Use for Caprese Salads?

Always use the highest quality tomatoes available to you. Heirloom tomatoes are wonderful, as are homegrown garden tomatoes. If those aren’t available, cherry tomatoes, Campari tomatoes, and on-the-vine tomatoes usually have good flavor.

How Do You Roast Garlic?

If you want a sweeter, more subtle garlic flavor, try roasting it. Roasting a whole head of garlic is easy. First, preheat your oven to 400°.

Next, cut off the top of the garlic head to expose each garlic clove. Place it on a piece of aluminum foil and drizzle the exposed surface with olive oil. Wrap the foil around the garlic, sealing the top.
Roast for 30-40 minutes or until the garlic is soft and caramelized. Let cool before using.

How Do You Remove Roasted Garlic Cloves from the Head of Garlic?

There are a couple of ways to extract the roasted garlic from the head. You can squeeze the garlic head with your finger or a sturdy set of tongs. The individual cloves will emerge from their garlic paper wrappings. Or use a small fork or knife to pull out individual cloves.

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Spaghetti No-Knife in a white bowl on a red checked napkin
Photo circa 2013.

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Overhead view of Caprese pasta in a white bowl with a red handled fork

Fresh Tomato Basil Pasta Recipe

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Additional Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 27 minutes
Yield 6

A simple summer side dish or entree using summer's best tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and fresh herbs.


  • 8 ounces spaghett or another pasta shape
  • 4 medium garden or heirloom tomatoes, peeled and chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • ½ cup coarsely chopped fresh basil
  • 3 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh oregano
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3-4 garlic cloves minced (may roast first for a mellower flavor)
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella (I used small mozzarella balls or ciliegine)


  1. In a large bowl, place the tomatoes, herbs, olive oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Let rest at room temperature for at least 30 minutes or up to 8 hours.
  3. About an hour before serving time, cook the pasta in well-salted water according to the package instructions.
  4. Drain and set aside to cool.
  5. Add pasta to the tomato mixture and toss to combine.
  6. Add the mozzarella, toss, taste for seasonings and adjust as needed.


Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart.

In the off-season, you can make this with cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 332Total Fat: 25gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 18gCholesterol: 24mgSodium: 250mgCarbohydrates: 17gFiber: 2gSugar: 3gProtein: 10g occasionally offers nutritional information for recipes contained on this site. This information is provided as a courtesy and is an estimate only. This information comes from online calculators. Although attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased can change the nutritional information in any given recipe. Also, many recipes on recommend toppings, which may or may not be listed as optional and nutritional information for these added toppings is not listed. Other factors may change the nutritional information such as when the salt amount is listed “to taste,” it is not calculated into the recipe as the amount will vary. Also, different online calculators can provide different results. To obtain the most accurate representation of the nutritional information in any given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe. You are solely responsible for ensuring that any nutritional information obtained is accurate.


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