Rigatoni with Burst Cherry Tomatoes

I’m trying to hold myself to a schedule of posting every Sunday. I am. And look, I’m getting better! This is only going up a day late! Let’s see if I can actually be on time next week 😉

When I was brainstorming ideas for this pasta series, I thought of this recipe and I was…skeptical. I’m embarrasses, but I’m just going to say it: I don’t really like tomatoes that much. Tomato sauce? I love. Pizza? Incredible. Ketchup? Always in my fridge. But there’s something about actual tomatoes that I just can’t get past. And so the thought of putting out a dish that I actually really enjoyed that used whole cherry tomatoes was daunting. But I’m eating this as a I write right now, and let me say…..I succeeded.

Clearly I forgot the basil….forgive me

There’s a great contrast between the juiciness of the burst tomatoes and the nice crunch of the breadcrumbs, and the seasonal cherry tomatoes really bring a lot of flavor to an otherwise very simple dish. The key here is ingredient quality, and not being afraid of seasoning. Get some nice, fresh tomatoes. And don’t be scared of the salt and pepper shakers! Obviously watching your sodium intake is important, but giving this dish it’s due diligence is just as important.

And finally, a note on the recipe itself: in the past I have been scaling my recipes up to serve 4-6 people. I’m not going to keep doing that- I am welcoming the world of single-serve recipes. It is how I actually cook the dish, so it means I can provide more accurate advice, plus this is a blog about college cooking. And I don’t know about you guys, but I’ve never cooked for 6 people in my dorm kitchen.


  • 4 oz rigatoni, or other pasta
  • 1.5 tbsp olive oil
  • 5 oz cherry tomatoes
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 2 tbsp Panko bread crumbs
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp nutritional yeast
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Fresh basil, to taste


  1. Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil and cook pasta according to package instructions, reserving 1/2 cup pasta cooking liquid before draining. Meanwhile, heat a medium-sized sauce pan over medium-high heat.
  2. Add Panko, red pepper flakes, and nutritional yeast to the heated but uncreased skillet. Toast, stirring frequently, until Panko is slightly browned. Remove mixture and set aside.
  3. In a clean pan, heat olive oil over medium-low heat. Add garlic and season with salt and pepper to taste. Sauté until garlic is fragrant and just starting to brown.
  4. Add tomatoes. Cook 5-10 minutes, until tomatoes begin to shrivel and burst, forming a sauce of sorts. If necessary, you can crush some of the tomatoes with the back of a wooden spoon to aide in achieving saucy goodness (I like to leave about 1/4 of the tomatoes in tact for presentation purposes).
  5. Reduce heat to low. Add cooked pasta to sauce and stir to combine. Add in pasta water tablespoon by tablespoon until you reach desired consistency.
  6. Remove from heat and serve in bowls. Garnish with bread crumb mixture and fresh basil and enjoy!

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