Fresh, flavorful, and eye-catching, this easy Margherita pasta recipe is the perfect comfort food. But would you believe it’s also good for you?

Pasta with tomatoes and basil in a white bowl on dinner table with bottle of oil, jar of pasta, basil leaves, seasoning, and tomatoes.

If that’s not enough for you to want to whip up a batch tonight, it also is an easy recipe to make. And one more surprise – it’s vegan, too!

If you’re making this Margherita pasta for guests, why not choose one of these Italian appetizers to serve first? I like having something waiting for company when they arrive.

The beautiful colors and flavors of Italy will make this a whole family favorite for a special occasion, but it’s a delicious meal for a normal weeknight, too.

By the way, food in Italy is so incredible! Have you been? Make sure to bookmark my 3 day itinerary for Rome if you go! I can’t wait to go back.

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Why This Recipe Works

Vegan doesn’t have to mean unusual ingredients and strange flavors. Garlic, cherry tomatoes, and balsamic are the dominant flavors here. The vegan aspect comes with vegan parmesan cheese to add a touch of saltiness.

The only part of this dish that needs to be cooked is the pasta. Everything else can be prepped while the pasta is cooking, making this a huge time saver.

It’s also a low-cost recipe to make, with its simple ingredients providing fresh flavor on a budget.

This dish is also even better the next day, so yay for leftovers!

What Goes Into This Recipe

Ingredients for a fresh pasta sauce with tomatoes and basil and a jar of pasta spilled over on a marble counter top.

Key Ingredients

Cherry tomatoes. You’ll find that cherry tomatoes work great here because they are bursting with sweetness and flavor. Other fresh tomatoes, such as Roma tomatoes, could be used, but these juicy tomatoes are the best option.

Pasta. Any boxed pasta will work, but bite-size pasta like farfalle, rotini, or penne works really well since you can easily get a bite of pasta and the other ingredients all at once. You can also use long pastas like spaghetti or fettuccine that can wrap around the tomatoes with each bite. For those with allergies, gluten-free pasta works, too.

Vegan Parmesan cheese. If you can’t find store-bought vegan parmesan, you can quickly make your own with cashews, salt, garlic, and nutritional yeast blended in a food processor until crumbly. 

Of course, if you’re not following a plant based diet and would rather use regular cheese, feel free! It’s delicious both ways.

See recipe card for quantities and full directions. 

How to Make this Margherita Pasta Recipe

Bring a large pot with salted water to a boil.

Cook pasta according to the time specified on its package directions.

While the pasta is cooking, you will prepare the chopped tomato sauce.

Cut the cherry tomatoes into quarters and add them to a large bowl.

Chop a handful of sweet basil leaves into strips, and add them to the bowl.

Peel two garlic cloves, mince them, and toss them in the bowl. 

Tomatoes, garlic, seasoning, and basil in a white bowl on dinner table.

Drizzle a couple tablespoons of olive oil over the ingredients in the bowl. Add salt, pepper, and oregano to taste, and stir until combined.

When the pasta has finished cooking to al dente, strain it in a colander. Add the cooked pasta to the bowl with the tomato mixture and stir until combined.

Before serving, drizzle some balsamic vinegar on top and dust with vegan parmesan cheese.

Sprinkling cheese on pasta with tomatoes and basil on dinner table with bowl of tomatoes.

Serve and enjoy.

Two white bowls of pasta with tomatoes and basil on dinner table with jar of pasta, basil leaves, and tomatoes.

Variations

Other cheeses. If you have a favorite cheese that you want to use instead of the vegan parmesan, go for it! Fresh mozzarella cheese or little mozzarella balls is a fantastic choice, but you can also use a bit of crumbled goat cheese or feta.

Roasted Garlic: Once you roast garlic cloves, the taste sweetens and is more mild, adding a new depth of flavor to this dish.

Margherita pasta bake. To make this into a casserole, stir in 16 ounces of ricotta cheese, top with a layer of mozzarella, and bake in a baking dish at 350 for 15 minutes.

Seasoning: The addition of Italian seasoning will give the dish a little more Italian flavor.

Turn up the spice. As prepared, this dish isn’t spicy at all. If you want it spicy, however, add red pepper flakes to taste. 

Prepare with meat. If you’re looking for a dish with added protein, grilled chicken (or chicken substitute) makes a wonderful addition to this meal. If you want to keep it vegan, try adding Impossible Burger or another vegan burger product.

Fork with pasta with tomatoes and basil on dinner table with bowl tomatoes.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the key ingredients for margherita pasta?

Representing the colors of the Italian flag, margherita pasta contains green basil, red tomatoes, and white cheese. 

Does margherita pasta contain alcohol?

Legend has it that the pasta was named for Queen Margherita of Italy. It has no connection with a margarita drink, and does not contain alcohol.

Can you use fresh pasta? 

Yes, but you’ll want to make the sauce as the water is coming to a boil. Fresh pasta cooks extremely fast, between 2 and 4 minutes, and so you won’t have time to prepare the sauce while the pasta is cooking.

FAQ

How long will the pasta and sauce last in the fridge?

This dish is best when served fresh. But if you have leftovers, they can be stored in the fridge for three to five days.

Can this dish be made gluten free?

Absolutely! You can use gluten free pasta for this dish or, if you want to go completely veggie, you can even use zucchini noodles!

Can I use powdered garlic or basil instead of fresh?

In a pinch, you can use dried basil or powdered garlic, but the flavor just won’t be the same. The fresh herbs are a must for this dish to be at its peak.

Two white bowls of pasta with tomatoes and basil on dinner table with jar of pasta, basil leaves, and tomatoes.

Top Tips

Make sure to choose ripe tomatoes. Our favorites are Sugar Bombs if you can find them. Grape tomatoes work, too.

Be sure the water you are boiling the pasta in is well salted. This helps bring the flavor out in the dish that you’re making.

Don’t overcook the pasta. Even if you’re following the directions on the package of pasta, you’ll want to check on the pasta a few minutes before the timer is up. You can always keep the pasta cooking longer, but you can’t un-cook it!

The pasta sauce should be ready before the pasta. Serve the pasta and sauce immediately after the pasta is ready for the best blending of flavors.

More Delicious Pasta Recipes

Recipe

Margherita pasta with tomatoes and basil in a white bowl.

Easy Margherita Pasta Recipe

This delicious easy margherita pasta recipe is so easy to make. The only ingredient you have to cook is the pasta, so it’s ready in minutes! The base for the amazing sauce is tomatoes and basil. Just wait until you taste this dish!!

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Course: Dinner

Cuisine: Italian

Prep Time: 7 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 17 minutes

Servings: 4

Calories: 365kcal

Instructions

  • Bring a large pot with salted water to a boil.

  • Cook pasta according to the time specified on its package directions.

  • While the pasta is cooking, you will prepare the chopped tomato sauce.

  • Cut the cherry tomatoes into quarters and add them to a large bowl.

  • Chop a handful of sweet basil leaves into strips, and add them to the bowl.

  • Peel two garlic cloves, mince them, and toss them in the bowl.

  • Drizzle a couple tablespoons of olive oil over the ingredients in the bowl. Add salt, pepper, and oregano to taste, and stir until combined.

  • When the pasta has finished cooking to al dente, strain it in a colander. Add the cooked pasta to the bowl with the tomato mixture and stir until combined.

  • Before serving, drizzle some balsamic vinegar on top and dust with vegan parmesan cheese.

Nutrition

Serving: 1 | Calories: 365kcal | Carbohydrates: 62g | Protein: 15g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 13mg | Sodium: 698mg | Potassium: 437mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 546IU | Vitamin C: 18mg | Calcium: 94mg | Iron: 3mg